This morning, we issued a press release to recognize the “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week” with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and our members. CTIA supports efforts to educate low-income and rural consumers about these federal and state programs that provide financial assistance for telecommunication services, including wireless. As millions of Americans can attest, the ability to communicate at anytime and anywhere, especially during emergency situations, is vital and may save lives.
As with all USF programs, Lifeline and Link-Up are funded by the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is funded solely by wireline and wireless consumers on their monthly bills and has no impact on the federal budget. Carriers remit the collections to the FCC, which is responsible for administering USF programs. Lifeline offers assistance with basic telephone service, whereas Link-Up helps pay for the initial telephone installation. Depending on their state, consumers receive up to $10 per month in discounts for their telephone services. Link-Up pays for half the initial installation fee, no more than $30 for wireline service, or the activation fee for a wireless telephone as a primary residence.
The Universal Service Fund was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to promote quality and affordable telecommunications services for low-income citizens, rural healthcare providers, schools and libraries and consumers in high-cost areas. In 2010, consumers contributed about $8.7 billion for the federal USF program through their monthly wireline and wireless telephone bills. 43 percent of the fund comes from wireless consumers. As part of the USF’s low-income program, qualified consumers choose either a wireline or wireless service.
For more information about “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week,” click here.