FCC's Lifeline Pledge Questioned Amid Large Provider Backlog

By Margaret Harding McGill (September 29, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT) -- The Federal Communications Commission wants to increase competition in the Lifeline market, but the stagnant backlog of interested providers has some attorneys questioning whether the agency has the resources and political capital needed to truly expand the low-income phone subsidy program.

The FCC believes encouraging more companies to offer Lifeline services — discounts on phone services for qualifying low-income consumers — is the best way to increase competition and innovation, according to a further notice of proposed rulemaking in June. But the commission hasn't approved a compliance plan from companies seeking to provide Lifeline services in three years, and has sat...

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