FCC Likely to Launch New Rulemaking Proceeding to Further Reform Lifeline Program

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

fcc-logo_white-on-light-blueThe FCC is gearing up to launch a new rulemaking proceeding to once again overhaul the Lifeline program. The last major reform of the program was in 2012, and this new rulemaking would likely continue the work of some of the earlier reforms, including teeing up the possibility that the program would fund broadband services for the first time. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has been signaling for months that she views the funding of broadband as an important goal for the program, including at a speech this past Monday at an NTCA event. FCC staff have also asked for input from companies that participated in the FCC’s Lifeline broadband pilot program, which analyzed possible service packages and subsidy levels. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel released a statement on Monday citing a recent Pew Research Center report that found that “Low-income households—and especially black and Hispanic ones—make up a disproportionate share” of the 5 million household in the United States with school-age children that lack broadband Internet access. Commissioner Rosenworcel noted that “7 out of 10 teachers assign homework that requires Internet access.”

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