National Consumers League

Technology

NCL Technology Issues

Feds must speed up expansion of Lifeline wireless service

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In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, NCL’s Sally Greenberg expressed concern that delays in providing Eligible Telecommunications Carrier certification to prepaid wireless carriers may be delaying the expansion of Lifeline wireless service to low-income consumers.

Arguing that wireless telephone service has become an essential part of modern life, Sally Greenberg noted that NCL has consistently supported the use of Universal Service Fund monies to bring wireless telephone service to low-income consumer via the Lifeline program. We believe that all carriers that are able to meet the service obligations of Lifeline should be able to serve Lifeline customers so that low-income Americans can have the same access to wireless and competitive services as other consumers.

The advantages that wireless service brings to low-income and working Americans, particularly minority consumers, are well-documented. For example, a recent report3 concluded that providing cell phones to the 38 percent of America's 45 million poorest households now without them -- including millions of seniors, Hispanics and African-Americans -- could help them get work or earn income at levels approaching $2.9 billion-$11 billion. Consumers will surely benefit if more providers were able to offer Lifeline services.

Read Greenberg’s letter to the FCC here.