The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has set new minimum speed and data usage standards for Lifeline-supported fixed broadband, mobile broadband, and mobile voice service. These new speed and data usage requirements take effect December 1, 2017:

Fixed Broadband – 15 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream; 250 GB per month data usage
Mobile Broadband – Remains 3G mobile technology; 1 GB per month data usage
Mobile Voice – 750 minutes per month

Although the minimum service standards are set to change December 1, there is an exception to the minimum speed standard for fixed broadband providers that do not offer generally available residential fixed broadband packages at a subscriber’s residence that meet those standards. Those providers may continue to receive Lifeline support for generally available residential offerings of at least 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. However, broadband data usage will increase for all fixed broadband providers on December 1 from 150 GB to 250 GB per month without exceptions.

These changes are allowed under the FCC’s 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. The FCC adopted detailed rules in order “to ensure the availability of robust services for low-income customers” by updating the minimum service standards for Lifeline service on a forward-looking basis. The FCC set initial minimum service standards and provided updating mechanisms.

The FCC also announced the Lifeline program budget will be $2.3 billion in 2018, a slight increase from 2017’s budgeted amount.

If you have any questions about the new minimum standards or you would like JSI’s help with anything Lifeline related, please contact Lans Chase in JSI’s Georgia office at 770-569-2105 or Lisa McLaughlin in our Texas office at 512-338-0473.