WCB Releases Order to Delay Changes to Lifeline Broadband Minimum Service Standard & Phase-Out for Support of Voice-Only Services

On November 5, 2021, the Wireline Competition Bureau (“WCB”) released an Order that pauses, until December 1, 2022, the scheduled phase-out in Lifeline support for voice-only services and the scheduled increase in the mobile broadband data capacity minimum service standards for the Lifeline program.  In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the FCC had ordered that, on December 1, 2021, Lifeline support for voice-only services was to be eliminated in most areas and the minimum service standard for broadband data capacity was to be increased to 18 GB per month.  The WCB found that the creation of the Emergency Benefit Broadband Program, the COVID-19 pandemic, and usage data reported in the WCB’s State of the Lifeline Marketplace Report all provided good cause for the pause.  The pause will also give the FCC time to evaluate whether circumstances warrant longer-term modifications of the Lifeline program.

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