Traveling Lifeline Updates With Data

As you may know, Lifeline was launched in 1985 to help ensure that traditional phone service was affordable for low-income consumers. Congress ratified the program in 1996 and codified the principle that low-income consumers should have entry to “advanced telecommunications and information providers. ” In 2008, as consumers snapped up cell phones, the FCC opened up the door to Lifeline support for mobility – and then updated the rules in 2012 to protect against the waste, fraud and abuse. Having discovered our lesson, in the same purchase that made huge steps in cleaning mobile support, the Commission attempted to think ahead about gathering the information to consider Lifeline support for high speed, which has become essential to modern life.

Specifically, the particular FCC launched the Low Income Broadband Pilot Program to study what policies might overcome the barriers to adoption of broadband by low-income households. I’m happy to say that the information are now in from these 14 varied pilots, and we’re releasing the information to the public for analysis, along with our own short report with a few immediate takeaways:

  • First, consumers respond well to having a choice of plans. Households have different needs for data speeds, usage amounts, service type and devices. The pilots demonstrated low-income consumers do not all really want or need the same products.
  • Second, whilst price is not the only barrier to broadband adoption, price matters.
  • Third, companies aren’t necessarily the best at dealing with other barriers to broadband use – lack of digital literacy and relevance to one’s life.

The pilots possess helped staff begin to understand the challenge of tackling low-income broadband use. For starters, there is no silver bullet. Plus, while the pilots were focused on various approaches for adoption, let’s end up being clear that Lifeline is focused upon ensuring services are affordable, to not solve the broadband adoption challenge. As the Commission moves forward to consider how to restructure the Lifeline plan for the digital age, the pilot statement will help provide useful data for your Commission and public to consider.


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