General

Yesterday, the FCC announced it was changing the Lifeline program to give states more control and allow local agencies to guide the initiative and protect it from fraud. From the Commission’s announcement:

[W]e need to return the role of state utility commissions in determining Lifeline eligibility. State utility commissions are key to policing against fraud and harmonizing federal and state initiatives that will help us close the digital divide. By letting states take the lead on certification as envisioned by Congress, we will strengthen the Lifeline program and put the implementation of last year’s order on a solid legal footing. This will benefit all Americans, including those participating in the program.

This change to the critical Lifeline program is something we at IIA have consistently supported. From our reply comments to the Commission in 2015:

IIA supports relying on state governmental agencies as the neutral entity charged with using a coordinated enrollment process to verify consumer eligibility and administer the enrollment and de-enrollment process. As Commission Clyburn recently noted, the only way to truly eliminate negative incentives and put the program on stronger footing is to remove the provider from determining eligibility and replace them with a neutral entity.

Kudos to the Commission for taking this important step in keeping the critical Lifeline program relevant and effective in the digital age.