Broadband Carriers under FCC's Lifeline Program
The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) “Lifeline” program provides a monthly discount to low-income subscribers of certain telecommunications services. In establishing the program, Congress empowered individual state utilities commissions to designate which carriers were eligible to participate. When Congress added broadband to the Lifeline program in 2009, it left this “cooperative federalism” regime in place. However, part of FCC’s 2010 Order implementing a national broadband plan impermissibly ignored the clear mandate of Congress and usurped the states’ authority to designate which broadband carriers were eligible to participate.
Wisconsin led a coalition of 12 states and agencies in challenging the FCC’s action.
Status: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted FCC’s unopposed motion to remand the matter for further agency action after the new FCC Commissioner announced that the agency planned to repeal the offending provisions of the Order.