Lifeline Minimum Service Standards and National Verifier Updates

Pete CodellaBroadband

In the next couple months, both the Minimum Service Standards and the National Verifier for the Lifeline Program will be going through integral changes.

On June 26th, the FCC released a Public Notice to inform Lifeline providers on updated minimum service standards.  These standards will go into effect on December 1, 2017.   The standards are the same as those announced in the Lifeline Modernization Order, but include a newly-announced standard for fixed broadband of 15 Mbps downstream, 2 Mbps upstream, and usage of 250 GB per month.

The National Verifer, an order that determines initial subscriber eligibility, will continue plans to move forward starting December of 2017.  In December, the National Verifier will have a “soft launch” in specific states.   Later in March, the National Verifier will launch full deployment nationwide.  Once deployed in the state, the launch will handle initial subscriber eligibility checks and annual re-certification  The next update to the National Verifer Plan will be published at the end of July.

Training plans that will cater to different learning styles will be released in August for the first initial states. These training sessions will take place in September or October.  Any suggestions by stakeholders can be submitted through the National Verifer blog.  Past feedback can be seen on their webinar dated June 14 and those interested to keep up with feedback can sign up for the next Lifeline webinar on August 9.

Lifeline Services, a program through the FCC, was developed to help make communication services more affordable for low-income consumers.  The program subscribes discounts on monthly telephone services purchased from providers that participate with Lifeline Services.  Subscribers can even purchase discounted broadband from the participating providers.  The Lifeline program offers a monthly service discount of $9.25 on wireline or wireless services.  To participate, subscribers must be either at or below 135% of federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in assistance programs.