Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed expansion of the Federal residential telcom subsidy program, Lifeline. Launched in 1986, the program adds a small fee to consumers' monthly phone bills to ensure that all Americans have access to basic telecommunications services. Recipients get the monthly subsidy, which is paid to their telecom provider of choice, for application toward the cost of one 'landline' or wireless phone account per household.
The proposal does not call for an increase in fees. Instead, it would allow recipients a choice in applying the subsidy toward voice or broadband service. Should the agency's commissioners approve the proposal at their June 18 meeting, a public comment period will then be scheduled for determining minimum standards for phone and broadband service.