USF voice service subsidy comes under FCC scrutiny

The FCC had a busy Thursday last week, voting to take a closer look at several communications and media issues. That scrutiny includes the federal government's Lifeline/Link Up program, a Universal Service Fund-financed program that subsidizes telephone service for low-income Americans.

Lifeline/Link Up, one of four USF programs, may see some significant changes depending on the FCC review, CED reports. The size of the program may be capped, and a national database of users might be created to make sure only one plan per household exists. A plus for Lifeline/Link Up recipients would be the addition of a subsidy for high-speed Internet connections.

The review of Lifeline/Link up is in line with a January vote that authorized an overhaul of another USF program, the High Cost fund, which pays phone companies to provide voice service in rural areas that are generally unprofitable.  High Cost is the USF's largest program, budgeted at $4.3 billion annually.

For more:
- CED has this story

Related articles:
FCC to lay out USF reform plans
FCC puts cap on rural service subsidies
FCC lays out rules for retransmission consent overhaul

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