FCC expands Lifeline to assistance the destitute pay for Internet access

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 1:02 AM

Millions of low-income Americans will presently be able to pay their bills, do their homework and apply for jobs online thanks to the expansion of a federal subsidy program called Lifeline.

FCC expands Lifeline to assistance the destitute pay for Internet access

Millions of low-income Americans will presently be able to pay their bills, do their homework and apply for jobs online thanks to the expansion of a federal subsidy program called Lifeline.

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-to-2 to widen the 31-year elderly program, which currently subsidizes telephone access for low-income Americans. The FCC said Lifeline will presently proposal a $9.25 a mo subsidy to participants, who can apply it toward broadband Internet access at residence or add a data map to their cell phones.

Mignon Clyburn, a commissioner at the FCC who advocated for the expansion, said the reforms aimed to modify a program that's been "stuck in an analog time warp" and create it "future proof, competitive and loaded with choice."

Related: How Lifeline vote could assistance millions of destitute Americans

The Commission will also require minimum standards for Internet service that Lifeline participants receive. Starting December one, participants will be able to get five hundred minutes a mo for basic cell phone service and five hundred MB of cell phone data.

The minimum mobile and data requirements will gradually expand over a five-year period. However, subsidies for voice-only mobile service will gradually be phased out during this time, except in areas where there is only one Lifeline provider. The program'south minimum standards will be reviewed again in two thousand twenty-first.

The agency also called for Lifeline-certified mobile devices to be equipped with WiFi and hotspot functionality, which they declare will assistance near the "homework gap" for millions of children who can't obtain online. According to the Pew Research Middle 31.4 percent of households with school age children and incomes less than $50.000 have access to a high speed Internet connection at home.

More than forty million Americans could be eligible for the Lifeline program if they meet income requirements or are enrolled in government benefit programs love SNAP. Although roughly twelve million currently participate.

In the past, Lifeline had been criticized for abuse and waste, particularly because of a feeble application system that allowed unqualified participants access to subsidies.

Related: How your cell phone taxes assistance destitute people

Below the commission'south new guidelines, the federal government would create a national eligibility database that'd check that'll check a participant'south income and whether or not they get government benefits love CLICK and Medicaid.

The commission also set a budget of $2.25 billion for the program, a first for the FCC according to Tom Wheeler, the head of the agency.

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