On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced a plan to pilot a revision of the 25-year-old Lifeline program from a land line concentration to a high speed broadband Internet program. Under Chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC has been making a big push for rural broadband, arguing that it’s an essential utility in modern society and that anything you do on the phone could also be done over broadband. The new program, says the FCC, would eliminate a lot of the waste and fraud currently endemic to Lifeline.
From The Verge:
A new National Lifeline Accountability Database will be created to prevent subsidies from being funneled to multiple phone carriers on behalf of the same individual, while a secondary database will provide a streamlined way to determine any given customer's eligibility. Also changing is the way households are viewed under Lifeline: moving forward, multiple families living at the same address with be considered one single "economic unit," and will be blanket-covered accordingly. The FCC hopes the changes will save $2 billion over the next three years, with $200 million in savings set as the benchmark for 2012.