FCC Streamlines Lifeline Enrollment

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The FCC launched an electronic interface that participating carriers can use when verifying a potential Lifeline subscriber’s eligibility. The goal is to streamline the enrollment process for the agency’s program for low-income consumers.

The new application programming interface (API) connects carriers’ systems to the Lifeline program’s National Eligibility Verifier.

The API will enable carriers to send applicant information directly to the National Verifier for an eligibility check, thereby reducing the paperwork required from potential subscribers.  

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called Lifeline an important program for closing the digital divide.  “By enabling carriers’ systems and the National Verifier to interact through this interface, we’ll make it easier for eligible consumers to enroll in the program.” He credited FCC staff, and the Universal Service Administrative Company, which administers Lifeline, for making the improvement. “Because of their efforts, Lifeline will be a more efficient tool for connecting some of our most vulnerable citizens to broadband,” Pai said.

The Commission’s Lifeline program provides eligible low-income consumers a monthly discount of up to $9.25 on broadband and voice services. However, the program has been plagued by waste and fraud, including the enrollment of ineligible subscribers. The agency has been working to combat this by rolling out an independent system, the National Eligibility Verifier, to confirm subscriber eligibility for the program in all fifty states and territories. As the FCC’s Inspector General has observed, the “[c]ontinued, expeditious implementation of the National Verifier in all jurisdictions is essential to ensure it effectively serves to safeguard the integrity of the Lifeline Program.”

In addition to enrolling through a participating carrier, consumers can continue to apply for the Lifeline program through the National Verifier’s online consumer portal, which is available at www.checklifeline.org, or by using a paper application form.

December 18, 2019

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