The FCC has tapped 14 telecoms for a pilot broadband
adoption program using savings from its reform of the Lifeline program.
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
- 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)