On December 1, 2016, the FCC somewhat unexpectedly issued an order approving four Lifeline Broadband Provider (“LBP”) applications, which will permit the companies to receive Lifeline support for the provision of broadband Internet access services to qualified applicants. While each of the applications was granted under the FCC’s 60-day streamlined designation process, it is particularly notable that one of the petitions was filed on November 21, 2016 – just ten calendar days before the order was released! For any provider seeking to become a LBP, this is very exciting news.

Throughout the order, the FCC systematically lays out the specifics of the service plans presented by each provider, which must meet the FCC’s minimum service standards. Some of the approved service offerings include:

  • 500MB mobile data usage allowance at 3G speeds, that is free to the subscriber after application of the monthly subsidy,
  • 500MB mobile data usage allowance at 3G or 4G speeds, unlimited voice, and unlimited texting for a $9.95 out-of-pocket monthly payment by the subscriber after application of the subsidy, and
  • 2GB mobile data usage at 4G speeds, then unlimited data usage after exhaustion of the initial allotment at 2G or 3G speeds, unlimited voice, and unlimited texting for a $19.95 out-of-pocket monthly payment after application of the subsidy.

By issuing its first LBP designations, the FCC has signaled that it is committed to moving full force towards Lifeline-supported broadband. DWT will continue to monitor these exciting developments in the Lifeline industry and provide updates as necessary.