In 2016, the FCC adopted its Lifeline Modernization Order, in which it introduced Lifeline subsidies for the provision of broadband services, and imposed graduated minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported broadband services. In that order, The FCC announced that on or before July 31 of each year it will publish a notice of the minimum standards for Lifeline-supported fixed broadband services for the twelve months to follow.
Yesterday, the FCC announced that beginning December 1, 2017, the minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported fixed broadband speeds will increase from 10/1 Mbps to 15/2 Mbps. The increase is based on data gathered from the FCC’s Form 477 reports. Fixed broadband providers that do not offer a generally-available residential package that meets the minimum service standard may receive Lifeline support for packages of at least 4/1 Mbps. The FCC also announced that the service standard for fixed broadband usage will increase from 150 GB to 250 GB based on data calculated from the Urban Rate Survey.
Further, the FCC reminded carriers that the minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported mobile voice will increase from 500 minutes to 750 minutes and the usage allowance will increase from 500 MB to 1GB on December 1, 2017. These increases were included in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. The service standard for Lifeline-supported mobile broadband speed will remain unchanged at 3G.
Finally, the FCC announced that the budget for Lifeline support, which is indexed to inflation, will increase from $2.25 billion to $2.28 billion effective January 2018.