The Federal Communications Commission approved efforts to modernize another Universal Service Fund program, one that helps extend communication networks to low-income areas.
Under the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking passed Thursday, the commission will examine ways the Lifeline/Link-up program, initially established to subsidize phone service, can be transitioned to support other new technologies, including high-speed Internet. The proposal also calls for reducing waste, fraud and abuse in the system.
"Major technological, market, and regulatory changes - including the Commission's decision in 2005 to allow prepaid wireless resellers to offer Lifeline service - have created new challenges and pressures on the program, as well as new opportunities for consumers," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Last month the commission voted to revamp another USF program that subsidizes phone service in rural areas. Genachowski has called for the fund to be used to implement the national broadband plan and increase access to high-speed Internet.
"As we reform Lifeline/Link-Up to be a leaner, more efficient, and more effective program, we're also making sure the program meets consumer needs in the broadband age," he said.