FCC changes Lifeline home phone subsidy program to help fund low income broadband

One of the things that the FCC has been pushing hard is for the expansion of broadband into rural America. Many rural Americans don't have access to broadband, and some in rural America can't afford broadband if they do have access. The FCC has announced changes to the Lifeline subsidy program, which was a subsidy to help pay for basic phone service in homes where families can't afford phone service otherwise. The changes are designed to save money from the program, and funnel those funds to pay for rural broadband.

The bulk of the changes are aimed at cutting out waste and abuse in the Lifeline program, which has been around for 25 years. The changes include setting up the National Lifeline Accountability Database that will prevent the subsidies from being funneled to multiple phone carriers on behalf of the same family or individual. The changes will also make a more streamlined way to determine if a family or individual qualifies for free service.

The changes also mean that homes with multiple families living in the home will count all families and their income to determine eligibility. The goal of the FCC is to save $2 billion over the next three years and funnel some of that money into a program to pay for rural broadband tests. The rural broadband test program is called the Broadband Adoption Pilot Program. The savings goal from the Lifeline subsidy for 2012 is $200 million, with $25 million of those funds earmarked for the new broadband pilot.

[via The Verge]