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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lifeline Telephone Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Angele A. Gilroy
Specialist in Telecommunications Policy

Mark Gurevitz
Information Research Specialist

The concept that all Americans should have affordable access to the telecommunications network, commonly called the “universal service concept,” can trace its origins back to the 1934 Communications Act. The preservation and advancement of universal service has remained a basic tenet of federal communications policy, and in the mid-1980s the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the Lifeline program to provide support for low-income subscribers. The Lifeline program, which is administered under the Universal Service Fund (USF) Low Income Program, was established by the FCC in 1984 to assist eligible low-income subscribers to cover the recurring monthly service charges incurred for telephone usage. Although the program solely covers costs associated with the minutes of use, not the telephone, misinformation connecting the program to payment for a “free phone” has resulted in a significant number of constituent inquiries.

Date of Report: December 3, 2012
Number of Pages: 6
Order Number: R42846
Price: $19.95

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