Why Lifeline Matters


Lifeline is the most comprehensive and effective federal program to bridge the home-internet affordability gap.

Lifeline is a federal program that was created during the Reagan administration to subsidize telephone connections for low-income people in the United States. Following Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush’s Federal Communications Commission expanded Lifeline to cover mobile phone service to ensure that poor people displaced by the hurricane could stay in touch with loved ones.

In 2016, the Obama FCC modernized Lifeline for the digital age, recognizing that people need broadband to meet basic needs and to participate in our society.

Today, Lifeline recipients can use a modest $9.25 monthly subsidy to connect to phone and/or internet services.

Studies show that poor people and people of color are far less likely to be connected to the internet than wealthy people and White folks, and that the cost of services is a major reason for this digital divide. Our communities need the internet to learn, find jobs, access health care and other vital services, and communicate with loved ones in good times and bad.

Lifeline is incredibly important for low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities, people living on tribal lands, veterans, domestic-violence survivors, hurricane victims and unhoused people.

Under the current administration, the FCC has put forward several proposals to decimate Lifeline as we know it.

In 2018, the FCC plans to cut off over 70 percent of Lifeline connections, decrease Lifeline service options across the country, place an arbitrary budget cap on the program that could result in people being turned away, and hand down a lifetime-benefits limit, which would cut people off from service after an undetermined period of time the FCC deems "too long.”

We can't let this happen.

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Find out if you are eligible for Lifeline and sign up for the program: