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WCB Title

The Wireline Competition Bureau is the FCC’s home for policies and programs focused on closing the digital divide. Dedicated staff are committed to making available to everyone an internet that is fast, open, and fair. Through our funding programs, we support carriers to help provide reliable access to affordable broadband and voice services for rural and urban households, schools and libraries, and rural health care providers. Implementing Congressional initiatives, we establish rules to protect consumers, prevent digital discrimination of access, and protect our national security.   

Phone: (202) 418-1500
Fax: (202) 418-2825

The universal service E-Rate program helps schools and libraries obtain affordable broadband so students, teachers and library patrons can take advantage of 21st century learning opportunities. The program provides support to over 132,000 schools and libraries across the country and in every state and territory by funding discounts on Internet access and Wi-Fi services.  

 

Learn More:

E-Rate Overview 

How to Apply for Funding 

Emergency Connectivity Fund 

Schools & Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program 

The universal service Lifeline program helps ensure that low-income consumers have access to affordable voice and broadband services.  Affordability is a key component of broadband adoption, particularly as the FCC works to ensure that 100% of the country has access to  reliable broadband and can participate in the 21st century economy.  The Lifeline program offsets the price of a monthly voice and broadband service for eligible households.  

 

Learn More:

Lifeline Program 

The universal service High Cost program provides funding for carriers to deploy and deliver voice and broadband networks throughout the nation, ensuring that modern communications services are available to people in rural areas at affordable rates.  Since 2011, the FCC has undertaken extensive reforms to modernize the High Cost program including implementing several different funding mechanisms that support recipients from a variety of difficult to serve areas all across the nation.

 

Learn More:

USF for High Cost Areas 

Alaska Connect Fund 

Broadband Funding Map 

At the direction of Congress in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the FCC adopted rules to facilitate equal access to broadband Internet access service and prevent digital discrimination of access against low-income and other under-served communities. The rules are intended to help consumers who may be experiencing digital discrimination of access based on income-level, race, ethnicity, color, religion or national origin. The rules also help broadband providers and other entities that facilitate broadband access to understand their obligations to provide consumers with equal access to broadband.

 

Learn More:

Order Adopting Rules to Prevent Digital Discrimination  

Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination  

Broadband Access Experience Form  

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 

Net neutrality ensures a fast, fair, and open Internet. The FCC’s net neutrality policies are a national standard by which we ensure that broadband internet service is treated as an essential service. It prohibits internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization of lawful content. By classifying broadband service as a “telecommunications” service under Title II of the law, the FCC has restored its oversight of internet service outages, national security threats in broadband networks, and consumer protection, and regains key tools to promote broadband deployment.

 

Learn More:

Net Neutrality Overview 

FCC Restores Net Neutrality Order 

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of more than 200 crisis centers that provide critical life-saving services for people in suicidal, mental health, and substance use crises.  Over the past several years, the FCC has acted to improve access to the Lifeline’s vital services by designating 988 as the easy to remember, 3-digit dialing number for callers to reach the Lifeline and by requiring covered text providers to route texts to 988 to the Lifeline.  

 

Learn More:

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 

3-digit dialing number 

Route texts to 988 

988 Overview (Learn More section) 

As survivors of domestic abuse navigate difficult circumstances, access to communications services is critically important, especially since many survivors may not have direct control over their mobile phone plans, which may still be managed by their abusers. The FCC adopted rules consistent with the Safe Connections Act of 2022 to help survivors of domestic violence by requiring mobile providers to separate phone lines linked to family plans where the abuser is on the account; protect the privacy of survivors by requiring providers to omit records of calls and text messages to domestic violence hotlines from consumer-facing call and text message logs; and provide support for survivors who suffer from financial hardship through the FCC’s Lifeline program

 

Learn More:

FCC Adopts Rules Implementing the Safe Connections Act for Survivors of Domestic Abuse  

Safe Connections Act of 2022 

The FCC was tasked with the responsibility in the Martha Wright-Reed Act of adopting reforms to reduce the financial burdens incarcerated people face when communicating with friends and family.  Access to affordable communications services is essential for all Americans, including incarcerated individuals who, instead of choosing their own providers, must use a provider selected by their correctional facility regardless of the rates charged by the provider. 

 

Learn More:

Incarcerated People’s Communications Services Overview  

Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022 Overview  

FCC Acts to Ensure Reasonable Calling Rates for Incarcerated People  

Stopping unwanted calls and texts is a top consumer protection priority for the FCC. As part of an agency-wide approach to eliminating robocalls, the FCC has adopted a series of rules requiring voice service providers to ensure that calls traveling through phone networks have their caller ID verified as being legitimate before the call reaches consumers. The FCC also established the Robocall Mitigation Database in 2021, to assist with evaluating compliance with the FCC’s robocall rules.

 

Learn More:

Caller ID Authentication - STIR/SHAKEN Stop Unwanted Robocalls and Texts Telephone Robocall Abuse: Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act)

The FCC created the Supply Chain Reimbursement Program at the direction of Congress to help ensure the security of the United States telecommunications infrastructure.  The program reimburses providers of advanced communications services for reasonable expenses they incur to remove, replace, and dispose of communications equipment and services in their networks that are produced or provided by companies that the FCC has determined pose a national security threat to the integrity of our communications networks and the communications supply chain. 

 

Learn More:

Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program Overview  

Reimbursement Program Portal  

Protecting Against National Security Threats to the Communications Supply Chain Through FCC Programs  

FCC Covered List  

The universal service Rural Health Care program supports broadband service for eligible nonprofit and public health care providers. Reliable, high-speed connectivity is an essential tool allowing health care providers to serve patients in rural areas that often have limited medical resources and fewer doctors.  The program reduces the rates providers pay for high-capacity broadband. 

The FCC’s top strategic goal is a “100 Percent” Broadband Policy.  Supporting this goal, the FCC publishes a granular, location-based broadband map to paint a more accurate picture of where broadband is and is not available across the United States. The map identifies every household and small business in the country that should have access to high-speed  internet service, and is supported by regular data submissions and regular improvements.  The FCC also assesses annually whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion across the U.S.

 

Learn More:

Broadband Data Collection  

National Broadband Map 

Mobile Broadband Maps  

How to Submit an Availability Challenge 

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