FCC Acts to Keep Low-Income Americans Connected

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The FCC is ensuring no current Lifeline subscribers are involuntarily removed from the program during the coronavirus pandemic. Lifeline provides monthly discounts on broadband and voice services to qualified low-income consumers.

The Wireline Competition Bureau waived several rules that could otherwise result in de-enrollment of subscribers from the Lifeline program. The de-enrollment rules are in place to remove duplicate, unused, and ineligible accounts and ensure that Lifeline program dollars are directed toward qualifying low-income consumers. Lifeline providers are required to de-enroll any subscriber who the carrier believes is no longer eligible. 

The bureau waived the Lifeline program’s de-enrollment procedures until May 29. It also extended a recent waiver of the program’s recertification and reverification requirements to May 29. The order directed the Lifeline program administrator, the Universal Service Administrative Company, to pause any involuntary de-enrollment of existing subscribers until that date. 

“Our priority right now is keeping Americans connected to broadband and phone service when they need it most. These proactive measures will go a long way in minimizing the risk that a low-income consumer might lose service during the COVID-19 crisis,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. He said the waivers are especially important given that a Lifeline subscriber who’s removed from the program may have difficulty re-enrolling now.

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