FCC Funds Lifeline Broadband Adoption Test Bed
Will use reform funds to gauge efforts to promote broadband to low-income residents
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/20/2012 10:36:35 AM
The reform of the Lifeline phone subsidy program yielded $214 million in 2012, the FCC announced, $14 million over its projection of $200 million. It was part of a broader FCC effort to both reform that program and migrate that and other phone subsidies to broadband.
The FCC said that $214 million savings came from a variety of sources, but it covered virtually all the new pilot program with savings from a single link-up subsidy. It said that by eliminating "unnecessary bounties" for new sign-ups, the link-up expenditures went from $14 million to under $200,000.
And in the cutting waste fraud and abuse department, the FCC said that requiring proof of income eligibility, subsidies dropped by $40 million in a single month and that it had cut over a million duplicates from its subscriber roles, or about $128 million in savings.
That $14 million in bonus bucks will go toward the pilot project, which will both provide data on how Lifeline funds can be used to boost broadband adoption among low-income consumers, as well as provide 75,000 unserved residents of 21 states and Puerto Rico access to broadband, at least for a year.
The money will fund a mix of wireless and wireline broadband projects that will run for 18 months including set-up and data collection. The companies must provide subsidized service for at least a year.
The 14 telecoms are:
- Frontier Communications Corporation (OH, WV)
- Gila River Telecommunications, Inc. (AZ - Tribal)
- Hopi Telecommunications, Inc. (AZ - Tribal)
- National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) Project, which includes the following carriers: Alpine Communications (IA); and Leaco Rural Telephone (NM)
- Nexus Communications, Inc. (OH, MI, IA, NV, CA, LA, MS, NJ)
- Partnership for a Connected Illinois Project, which includes the following carriers: Adams Telephone Cooperative; Cass Telephone Company; Harrisonville Telephone Company; Madison Telephone Company; Mid-Century Telephone Cooperative; Shawnee Telephone Company; and Wabash Telephone Cooperative (IL)
- PR Wireless, Inc. (Puerto Rico)
- Puerto Rico Telephone Company (Puerto Rico)
- T-Mobile Puerto Rico LLC (Puerto Rico)
- TracFone Wireless, Inc. project using smartphones (FL, MD, TX, WA, WI, MA)
- Troy Cablevision, Inc. (AL)
- Vermont Telephone Company, Inc. (VT)
- Virgin Mobile USA, L.P. (MA, OH)
- XChange Telecom Corp. (NY)
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