Common Cause Hails FCC Action Extending Lifeline Program to Broadband

Statement by Michael Copps, Common Cause Special Advisor on Media and Democracy Reform and Former FCC Commissioner

“With today’s vote modernizing the Lifeline program to cover wired or wireless broadband service, the FCC has helped clear a path to the digital age for millions of low-income Americans.

“Since its creation in the mid-1980s, Lifeline has helped people who otherwise could not afford it obtain vital telecommunications services. Today’s vote extends the program’s monthly subsidy to at least partially cover broadband service in qualifying households.

“This is a giant leap forward. It helps extend awesome power of the Internet to those who need it most. School children, jobseekers, the elderly and infirm in particular will all benefit. This advance is particularly welcome in this election year, when so much political debate is occurring and so much information is being exchanged online. 

“There are those who would have eliminated this program.  Thank goodness, and the FCC, that this lifeline to 21st century opportunity can now do even more for millions of Americans.”

Background: Established in 1985, the Lifeline program has helped low-income households afford telephone service for decades. In 2005, the FCC voted to allow beneficiaries to use their subsidy to purchase cellular voice service.