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Lifeline-Supported Voice Service

Eligible consumers can apply Lifeline program support to fixed (home) or mobile (cell) phone service.

As part of the Lifeline Modernization Order, the minimum standards for voice-only service will increase, and the support amount for voice-only service will decrease.

Voice Service Obligations

To receive Lifeline support for voice service, the service must have:

  • Minutes for local service provided at no additional charge to end users,
  • Access to the emergency services (911 or E911),
  • Toll limitation service (TLS) at no charge (only required if tolls calls are an additional cost),
  • No service deposit to initiate service (for service that does not charge toll fees or if the subscriber elects TLS),
  • Applied Lifeline to waive any federal End User Common Line charges and apply any additional federal support to the consumer’s intrastate rate (if applicable),
  • Any additional support amount (if applicable), and
  • Met the minimum service standards.

Usage Requirement

If the service provider does not assess or collect a monthly fee, the consumer must use the Lifeline-supported service at least once every 30 days. Usage includes:

  • Making an outbound call,
  • Answering an incoming call (not including one from the service provider or their representative),
  • Using data,
  • Buying minutes to add to their service plan,
  • Responding to the service provider to confirm they want to continue the Lifeline service, and
  • Sending a text message.

If the consumer does not use their service for 30 consecutive days (non-usage), the service provider must give the consumer a 15-day notice that if they do not use the service in the next 15 days, their service will be terminated.

Minimum Service Standards

Service providers are required to meet these minimum standards for Lifeline-supported services starting December 2, 2016. The minimum service standards will gradually increase over time.

Effective Date Mobile Voice Minimum
12/2/2016 500 Minutes
12/1/2017 750 Minutes
12/1/2018 – present 1000 Minutes

Support Level Phase-Down

The Lifeline program began providing support for mobile and fixed broadband service on December 2, 2016. Thus, the support for mobile and fixed voice-only service will gradually decrease over time.

Date Mobile Voice-Only Fixed Voice-Only
12/2/2016 $9.25 $9.25
12/1/2017 $9.25 $9.25
12/1/2018 $9.25 $9.25
12/1/ 2019 $7.25 $7.25
12/1/2020 $5.25 $5.25
12/1/2021 0 0

Note: If a service provider is the only Lifeline provider in the Census block, it may continue providing the support amount effective 12/1/2020.