FCC to increase oversight of phone subsidy plan

Mar 03, 2011 By JOELLE TESSLER , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Federal regulators want to increase oversight of a government program that subsidizes telephone service for low-income Americans.

The voted unanimously Thursday to study ways to bring more accountability to the $1.3 billion Lifeline/Link Up program. Lifeline/Link Up is one of four programs that make up the $8 billion Universal Service Fund, which was created to ensure that all Americans have access to a basic telephone line.

Among other things, the will explore capping the size of Lifeline/Link Up. It will also explore creating a national database of users to validate eligibility and ensure that it is only supporting one phone plan per household. In addition, the FCC wants to tap the program to subsidize high-speed Internet connections.

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