FCC CAC Recommendation Regarding
FCC Interagency Coordination To Promote/Facilitate Communications Access
WHEREAS, broadband, as described in the National Broadband Plan, “is transforming the
landscape of America more rapidly and more pervasively than earlier infrastructure networks”1;
WHEREAS, affordability and relevance have been identified as barriers to broadband adoption2;
WHEREAS, in 1934 Congress tasked the Commission to “make available, so far as possible, to all
the people of the United States . . . a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and
radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges”3; and
WHEREAS, in 1996 Congress set forth universal service principles including that “consumers in
all regions of the nation, including low-income consumers, . . .should have access to
telecommunications and information services”4; and
WHEREAS, in meeting the national universal service goals, the Commission oversees four (4)
universal service programs, including the federal Lifeline assistance program and the Schools
and Libraries program (E-rate); and
WHEREAS, the federal Lifeline program is currently designed to help low-income consumers
afford essential telecommunication service by subsidizing $9.25 off the monthly cost of voice
WHEREAS, low-income consumers are eligible for federal Lifeline assistance if they participate in
Medicaid; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Supplemental Security Income;
Federal Public Housing Assistance; Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; National
School Lunch Program’s free and reduced meal program; Temporary Assistance for Needy
WHEREAS, in addition to the standard Lifeline eligibility criteria, low-income consumers living on
tribal lands may also qualify for federal Lifeline assistance through participation in Bureau of
Indian Affairs general assistance; Tribally-administered TANF; Head start (via the income-
qualifying standards) and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations; and
1 NBP at 3.
2 NBP at ch.9.
3 47 U.S.C. § 151.
4 47 U.S.C. § 254(b).
WHEREAS, the Commission’s recent Lifeline reform order directs the Wireline Competition
Bureau and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) which administers the Lifeline
program for the Commission, to “take all necessary actions so that . . . there will be an
automated means to determine Lifeline eligibility for, at a minimum, the three most common
programs through which consumers qualify for Lifeline”5; and
WHEREAS, there is an ongoing Lifeline Broadband pilot to begin studying modifications to the
Lifeline program for the delivery of broadband service to low-income households6; and
WHEREAS, the Commission structured recent Lifeline reforms and processes such as the
National Lifeline Duplicates Accountability Database in a manner that is “sufficiently flexible to
adapt to reasonably foreseeable changes in the Lifeline rules so that additional functionality can
be added at minimal cost” such as checking for duplicative broadband support7; and
WHEREAS, federal benefits programs are increasingly relying on websites to provide consumers
with information about programs and provide web portals to apply for benefits8; and
WHEREAS, the dissemination of Lifeline eligibility to consumers applying for the low-income
federal assistance programs listed above, would help to increase participation in Lifeline while
helping to the federal benefits operate more efficiently due to the provision of a stable phone
number for their clients; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Consumer Advisory Committee recommends that the
Commission closely coordinate with federal departments, independent agencies and program
administrators that oversee direct low-income consumer assistance programs to align
Commission policies and programs which focus on helping low-income consumers and
communities with communications access.
Unanimously Adopted July 25, 2014
Debra R. Berlyn, Chairperson
FCC Consumer Advisory Committee
5 Lifeline Reform Order, FCC 12-11 at para 223.
6 Lifeline Broadband Pilot Order, FCC DA 12-2045 (Rel. Dec. 19, 2012).
7 Lifeline Reform Order, FCC 12-11 at para 222.
8 See e.g., the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website list of states that have online applications for
SNAP at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/apply.
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