On November 19, 2019, the FCC released an Order that waived the Lifeline-supported minimum standards for Mobile Broadband. According to existing FCC rules, the Mobile Broadband minimum standard was to increase from 2 GB/month to 8.75 GB/month effective December 1, 2019. The FCC recognized the drastic jump and found good cause to waive the revised minimum standard to the extent it would require mobile carriers in the Lifeline program to offer more than 3 GB per month from December 1, 2019 through November 30, 2020.
In light of the waiver, below highlighted in yellow are the minimum standards that will become effective December 1, 2019.
- Fixed Broadband – 20/3 with 1024 GB of usage per month
- Exception – if 20/3 is unavailable at the subscriber’s location, the Lifeline benefit can be applied toward the highest performing fixed broadband residential offering available but must be at least 4/1
- Mobile Broadband – 0 GB/month with 3G or better mobile technology
- Mobile Voice – 1,000 minutes per month (no change)
- Fixed voice – No minimum service standard (no change)
- Note that effective December 1, 2019, the Lifeline benefit for voice service will decrease from $9.25 to $7.25
If the subscriber is receiving a bundled service, the Lifeline benefit must be applied to one of the services in the bundle and the service it’s applied to must meet the minimum standards.
Customers who currently subscribe to Lifeline-supported services that will no longer meet the minimum standards on December 1, 2019 must be notified at least one month in advance. The notification should explain that their service will no longer qualify for Lifeline as of December 1, 2019 and they can either switch to a Lifeline-supported plan or de-enroll from the Lifeline program.