Verizon urged the US government to increase funding to a subsidy programme which helps low-income consumers purchase mobile services, arguing the move would boost choice and help close the nation’s broadband coverage gap.
In a blog, Verizon pressed Congress to replace the existing Lifeline programme, which provides consumers an average subsidy of $9.25 per month, with a new benefit offering between $20 and $50 per month. It added the revamped offering should allow consumers to choose from a variety of tariffs, rather than a designated plan.
Citing the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Verizon argued existing policies “don’t go far enough” to address a lack of broadband access, adding its proposal would “empower more Americans to thrive in the internet age and help ensure that no one is left behind by the digital revolution”.
Verizon’s plea comes four months after it inked a $6.25 billion deal to acquire MVNO Tracfone, which is one of the largest service providers participating in the Lifeline programme.
Others have also pressed for higher Lifeline subsidies: in April 2020, a group of 27 politicians called on Congress to allocate $1 billion in supplementary funding to the programme as part of Covid-19 relief legislation, arguing this “would allow for a better reimbursement rate and other support that would secure the levels of service needed for modern applications”.
In September 2020, AT&T EVP of federal regulatory regulations Joan Marsh wrote in a blog the current subsidy “isn’t adequate to support critical broadband needs”, but noted boosting the benefit to $35 per month would raise the annual cost of the programme to between $8.1 billion and $12.1 billion, from approximately $981 million in 2019.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back