Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler announced on Thursday that he intends to expand Lifeline, popularly known as the “Obama Phone” program, to the Internet.
“I am circulating new proposals to “reboot” Lifeline for the Internet age,” Wheeler wrote in a blog post on the FCC’s Website. He said the reboot would include “establishing minimum standards of service for voice and broadband,” in addition to subsidies for low-income consumers.
Lifeline is a government benefit program that provides a monthly subsidy of $9.95 on telephone service for those at or below 135 percent of the poverty line so they can connect to the nation’s communications networks, find jobs, access health care services, connect with family and their children’s schools, and call for help in an emergency.
The money comes out of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is funded through fees paid by consumers on telephone service. …
In his post, Wheeler said, “30 percent of Americans still haven’t adopted broadband at home…. While more than 95 percent of households with incomes over $150,000 have broadband, only 48 percent of those making less than $25,000 have service at home.”