Save the Lifeline Program

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Upcoming FCC Rulemaking Proposes Devastating Changes to Lifeline

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What is the FCC trying to do?

Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order

This rule would target enhanced Lifeline support to residents of rural areas on Tribal lands and establish mapping resources to identify rural tribal lands to eliminate cities like Tulsa, OK and Reno, NV from being eligible to receive enhanced Lifeline Support. This rule would also require independent certification of residency on rural Tribal lands.

This would eliminate enhanced Tribal support for over 25,000 eligible Lifeline consumers who need it most.

This rule would prohibit resellers from being able to provide service to eligible Lifeline consumers on tribal lands. Up to two-thirds (66%) of all Lifeline recipients on Tribal lands receive their services from a reseller today. This would reduce competition greatly in Tribal-designated areas and potentially eliminate service provider availability altogether in certain area. Facilities-based providers have made no indication that they would be willing to provide Lifeline services in the areas that resellers provide it in today.

This would eliminate resellers from providing Lifeline on Tribal lands. This would reduce competition and potentially eliminate service providers in areas where they are not available today. Today, only ONE Lifeline provider is facilities-based.

This rule would eliminate providers that allow access to thousands of hotspots for low-income consumers who would otherwise not be able to access through their Lifeline services alone. Additionally, this type of usage usage would no longer qualify as Lifeline usage.

This would reduce options for consumers who have enjoyed the premium Wi-Fi services that have helped close the digital divide and homework gap.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

This rule will revoke states’ right to designate ETCs, and would completely eliminate Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) designations. This means that all Lifeline Program regulation would be under Federal control.

States will no longer designate providers as ETCs and the government will no longer allow for Lifeline Broadband Provider designations.

This rule will target Lifeline funds solely to facilities-based providers, eliminating the majority of ETC’s ability to provide Lifeline service. Facilities-based providers have made no indication that they would be willing to provide Lifeline services in the areas that resellers provide it in today, meaning that low-income Americans participating in the Lifeline Program will be at risk of losing their Lifeline service.

Most ETCs will no longer be permitted provide Lifeline service to low-income Americans who need access to communication services for emergency services, employment, childcare, education and healthcare.

This rule proposes to replace the approach adopted in the 2016 Lifeline Order and would require an annual cap for Lifeline disbursements. The program would then automatically make adjustments in order to maintain the cap, preventing low-income Americans and U.S. Veterans who are eligible from obtaining Lifeline service.

Low-income Americans and U.S. Veterans eligible for Lifeline who are eligible to receive Lifeline service can be denied if a cap for Lifeline disbursements is implemented.

This rule would to allow the FCC to make accountability proposal changes to the current process of how businesses that support Lifeline consumers determine individuals’ eligibility and recertification.

Notice of Inquiry

This rule is designed to focus Lifeline support on residents who live on Tribal lands in rural areas and will use a mapping data resources to identify those specific rural Tribal lands. This means that larger cities, such as Tulsa and Reno, would be eliminated from the enhanced Lifeline support they currently receive. People would also be required to show independent certification of residency on rural Tribal lands.

This means that 25,000+ Lifeline-eligible customers would lose their benefit because they do not live in a rural area.

To read the full FCC document, please click here.

Time is running out! Help us save Lifeline for low income consumers

What is NaLA doing to help?

  • Legal Support

    NaLA’s legal team is working diligently to engage government and tribal representatives to put a stop to the assault on the Lifeline program.

  • Public Relations

    NaLA’s PR Team is working hard to inform and update media outlets, Lifeline recipients, program supporters, service providers, and government & regulatory officials.

  • Research

    NaLA’s Research team provides Lifeline analytics, statistics, survey responses, and other critical information to key data stakeholders from our Lifeline service providers.

  • Networking

    NaLA actively networks service providers, regulatory officials, government representatives, media, and key constituencies to increase awareness and ensure the continuity of the Lifeline program.

NaLA’s Regulatory & Government Affairs Task Force

Due to a potentially enormous negative impact on the most vulnerable demographic in the nation, NaLA has activated a task force of highly qualified industry experts and advocates working hard to ensure the continuity of the Lifeline Program.

This task force is charged with handling the outreach, communication, collaboration, and education required to inform lawmakers and constituents aware of the proposed changes and what they can do to support the program and protect the Lifeline Program participants.

Time is running out! Help us save Lifeline for low income consumers.

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Jordan AxtSave the Lifeline Program