Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said on Monday he plans to reform a program designed to subsidize phone service for help low-income Americans to provide broadband access.
The FCC's Lifeline program provides up to $10 in discounts on monthly telephone service for people who are at or below 135 percent of the poverty level or are covered by one of several assistance programs, such as Medicaid or food stamps.
As part of a broader effort to reform the Universal Service Fund, which was designed to help develop phone networks in rural or other areas, Genachowski said he will unveil an order switching Lifeline to broadband and enacting measures to reduce fraud and waste on Tuesday.
"These are vital programs, grounded in a longstanding national commitment to the idea that essential infrastructure and platforms--electricity, highways, telephone service, and now broadband--should be available to all Americans, and that we all benefit from universal service," Genachowski said in a speech at the Third Way on Monday.
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, praised the plan, noting that Lifeline has been beset by problems for years.
"It's time to modernize the program by bringing it into the 21st Century, with support of broadband access for low-income Americans," she said in a statement.