Four weeks after voting 3-2 along party lines to modernize the Lifeline program; the FCC has finally released the text of the Order. The new Lifeline rules:

  • Provide a mechanism for Lifeline subsidies to support broadband service
  • Eliminate voice service by December 2021 with few exceptions
  • Create minimum service standards for broadband and mobile voice service
  • Establish a National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier
  • Streamline Lifeline eligibility for low-income customers
  • Create a new Lifeline Broadband Provider designation
  • Establish a $2.5 billion soft budget
  • Introduce additional changes to increase “efficient administration and accountability,” including changing the non-usage rules, establishing a 12-month window for transferring broadband benefits, revise the recertification process, and calls for the creation of federal Lifeline forms.

Stakeholders had been anxiously awaiting the text of the Order to, among other things, determine whether they would challenge some of the new provisions in court and to see how exactly the new Verifier will work.