The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it has saved $210m on its Lifeline program, mainly through eliminating fraud. Out of that $14m has been allotted to broadband adoption pilots in 21 states and Puerto Rico. Details below.
Launch of 14 Broadband Adoption Pilots Across the Country
Using $14 million in savings from reforms, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has chosen 14 high-quality pilot projects to advance broadband adoption through Lifeline. The projects will provide critical data and rigorous analysis regarding how Lifeline can efficiently and effectively increase broadband adoption and retention among low-income consumers.
Located in 21 states and Puerto Rico, the pilots will also provide broadband for nearly 75,000 low-income consumers who now lack service.
Robust, affordable broadband has become essential to access jobs, education, and economic opportunity. Over 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies today – including Wal-Mart and Target – require online job applications. And students with broadband at home have a 7 percent higher graduation rate. But low- income households adopt broadband at much lower rates than the average household: Fewer than 36 percent of families with incomes less than $25,000 subscribe to broadband at home, compared to nearly 92 percent of families with incomes over $75,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In order to rigorously test how best to use Lifeline to support broadband adoption, the pilots will gather data and provide analysis on a wide a range of geographic, technological, and programmatic variables. Projects include five wireless broadband projects, seven wireline broadband projects, and two offering wireline or wireless technologies. Seven will test discounted service in rural areas, including two on Tribal lands, and seven will test discounted service in urban and suburban areas. Variables that will be experimentally tested include the use of digital literacy training, equipment types, subsidy levels, speed ranges, and usage limits.
The Pilot Program will run for 18 months, beginning on Feb. 1, 2013. Winners have three months to set up the pilots, and must provide one year of subsidized service. The pilots must complete data collection and analysis in the final three months. Following is a list of projects and the states in which they are located. A more detailed description of the projects is available in Appendix A of the Order, available at http://www.fcc.gov/document/14-projects-chosen-lifeline-broadband-pilot-program-competition.
1. Frontier Communications Corporation (OH, WV)
2. Gila River Telecommunications, Inc. (AZ – Tribal)
3. Hopi Telecommunications, Inc. (AZ – Tribal)
4. National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) Project (which includes the
following carriers: Alpine Communications (IA); and Leaco Rural Telephone (NM))
5. Nexus Communications, Inc. (OH, MI, IA, NV, CA, LA, MS, NJ)
6. Partnership for a Connected Illinois Project (which includes the following carriers: Adams Telephone Cooperative; Cass Telephone Company; Harrisonville Telephone Company; Madison Telephone Company; Mid-Century Telephone Cooperative; Shawnee Telephone Company; and Wabash Telephone Cooperative (IL))
7. PR Wireless, Inc. (Puerto Rico)
8. Puerto Rico Telephone Company (Puerto Rico)
9. T-Mobile Puerto Rico LLC (Puerto Rico)
10. TracFone Wireless, Inc. project using smartphones (FL, MD, TX, WA, WI, MA)
11. Troy Cablevision, Inc. (AL)
12. Vermont Telephone Company, Inc. (VT)
13. Virgin Mobile USA, L.P. (MA, OH)
14. XChange Telecom Corp. (NY)
Wireline Competition Bureau Staff Contact: Kimberly Scardino at 202-418-1442