Tell the FCC: Leave Lifeline Alone
Lifeline is a vital federal program that helps poor and marginalized communities connect to telecommunications services. Lifeline provides a modest but essential $9.25 monthly subsidy to most recipients. Yet the FCC’s Republican majority is doing all it can to jeopardize this program.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Brendan Carr and Mike O’Rielly want to dismantle Lifeline, a proposed rollback that would rob millions of poor people of affordable phone and internet access and disproportionately impact people of color, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.
This plan would cut off over 70 percent of Lifeline subscribers, decrease Lifeline service options across the country, place an arbitrary budget cap on the program that could result in people being turned away, and hand down a lifetime-benefits limit, which would remove people from service after an undetermined period of time the FCC deems “too long.”1
All of these changes mean that the FCC would eject more than 7 million Lifeline subscribers from the program, and large swaths of the United States would be left without any Lifeline options.
In moving forward with this heartless proposal, the FCC ignored objections from congressional leaders who have heard from concerned constituents that this plan would make it difficult for them to search for jobs, advance their education, meet their basic needs and stay informed.
No one is asking for this cruel rollback.
The plan to gut Lifeline has drawn objections from Native American tribal leaders, poor people, single moms, unhoused people, people of color, elderly people, victims of natural disasters, veterans and people with disabilities, all of whom would be disproportionately harmed by this extreme proposal.
The FCC’s proposal also threatens to disconnect more than 369,000 Lifeline customers in Puerto Rico. Access to Lifeline has been instrumental in helping Puerto Ricans recover and rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. But Pai’s plan would make it that much harder for Puerto Ricans to connect in the hurricane seasons to come.2
When he was confirmed as FCC chairman, Ajit Pai claimed that bridging the digital divide would be a top priority of his tenure. But gutting Lifeline would leave even more low-income people without access to vital communications services.
We can't let this happen: Tell the FCC to terminate its Lifeline proceeding and abandon this cruel proposal.
In partnership with:
1. “Save Lifeline FAQs”: https://www.savelifeline.org/lifeline-faq
2. “Cutting Off Communication for Puerto Rican Hurricane Victims Is Just Cruel,” The Hill, May 13, 2018: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/387481-cutting-off-communication-for-puerto-rican-hurricane-victims-is