The U.S. Capitol

As previously reported, on June 2 the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet held a hearing on “Lifeline: Improving Accountability and Effectiveness,” in anticipation of the FCC’s expected June 18 adoption of a new Lifeline order and further notice of proposed rulemaking.  It is anticipated that the notice will propose further changes in the Lifeline program, including the transformation of Lifeline from a telephone-centric program to one that also funds broadband.  Testimony was presented by Randolph May of the Free State Foundation; Michael Clements of the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO); Scott Bergmann of CTIA – The Wireless Association; Commissioner Ronald A. Brisé of the Florida Public Service Commission; and Jessica Gonzalez of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.  Most of the witnesses generally supported the shift in the Lifeline program to one that subsidizes broadband as well as voice service to low income Americans, with the exception of Mr. May, who expressed reservations over an expansion of the program from one that provides “basic” service to the “truly needy.”  Mr. May proposed that the current Lifeline subsidy under the federal USF program be converted to a voucher system supported by separate congressional appropriations.  The testimony, Senators’ statements and video of the hearing can be found here:  http://1.usagov/1PBu6pP.