July 02, 2019

NYSARA President Testifies Before the NYS Public Service Commission on the Lifeline Program


NYSARA President Barry Kaufmann testified before the NYS Public Service Commission on behalf of Wireless service carriers and the Lifeline program in New York State. Lifeline is a federal program created in 1985 to help low-income consumers afford telephone service. The program now includes wireless service and broadband internet, and helps low- income older Americans in every state and territory afford voice and broadband service. But the FCC may devastate the program by drastically reducing the number of eligible service providers and limiting the reach of Lifeline. The FCC’s proposals would increase costs and boot nearly 70% of Lifeline households from their current carrier.

Affordable broadband is critical for older consumersAffordable broadband for low-income elders keeps them connected with their community and essential life-supporting programs.

In New York State currently the companies that provide landline phones receive a subsidy of $11 for providing service in addition to a subsidy from the federal government of $9.25.  The wireless companies that provide service receive NO subsidy from New York State.  The wireless companies have petitioned New York State to receive the same $11 subsidy as the providers of landline service receive.  In addition to phone service the wireless providers would provide text and data service that landline providers cannot give which is critical for seniors.

Wireline vs. Wireless Lifeline Household Participants as of Dec. 2018:

  • Total Lifeline households: 9,111,916
  • Wireline Lifeline customers: 678,726 or 7.5%
  • Wireless Lifeline customers: 8,433,190 or 92.5%
  • Nationally 1.28 million elderly households are lifeline households

In New York State:

  • In 2018, NY has 755,614 Lifeline households.
  • Of those NY Lifeline households, there are 686,988 wireless households and 68,626 wireline households.
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