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State utility commission officials warn FCC of potential impact to Lifeline program

Lifeline provides qualifying houses with subsidized phone and broadband services.
(KVLY)
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 5:28 PM EDT
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MAINE (WABI) - A pending rule change within the U.S Federal Communications Commission could impact those who rely on the Lifeline program.

Lifeline provides qualifying houses with subsidized phone and broadband services.

The rule change would shift consumers from a free service to a co-payment.

A bipartisan group of state utility commission officials from rural states like Maine met today to warn the FCC of the potential impact.

“This is a very essential time and time is of the essence," said Maine state advocate Barry Hobbins. "Fifteen days from now, unless the FCC freezes the minimum service standards, we are going to be faced in our respective states with a significant reduction in the number of subscribers.”

During the coronavirus, a survey showed that somewhere between 50 to 80 percent of the current 6.9 million lifeline subscribers were unable to make a co-payment.

Speakers say Lifeline phones are vital for those in qualifying low-income households, especially right now.

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