Lifeline Broadband Free Internet!

Free Internet for eligible households!  Lifeline broadband is an extension of the longstanding free cell phone service for low income households to include broadband.  This program expansion was approved by the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) in March 2016, and became available December 1, 2016.  This was fantastic news!FCC Lifeline Broadband

Essentially, it extends the $9.25 monthly Lifeline subsidy toward mobile or fixed-line broadband that can be offered as a standalone service, or bundled with a voice plan.  This translates in a myriad of options by allowing eligible households to get regular home Internet, or data on a smartphone, or wireless mobile hotspot service.  In a world proliferated by smartphones, and people using data to communicate as a preferred method over voice calls, this evolution makes a lot of sense.  Note that this subsidy translates into either free broadband, or heavily subsidized service.  It will be up to providers how they decide to implement their programs.

Why Is Lifeline Broadband Important?

In particular, it will help people when applying for jobs, which is 100% accomplished on the Internet.  Phone calls are now usually only a secondary means of following up on applications to schedule phone and in-person interviews.  Moreover, it helps to address, or at least lessen the Digital Divide, which is when students don't have access to the Internet at home in order to complete required homework assignments.  This includes online test preparation, as well as research, and even email communication.  This is often referred to as the Homework Gap.  We don't want our children to fall behind, or be excluded from advancement or opportunities, simply due to the lack of access to the Internet.

The reality is that Lifeline broadband is long overdue.  It's understandable that Internet was initially considered a luxury, and not quite a necessity like access to a regular feature phone.  I do, however, think that virtually everyone would agree that access to broadband is now considered a necessity, and is an integral part of the education system.  Beyond students, the Internet enables us to understand the world and economy around us, including researching prospective employers, applying for jobs,  as well as negotiating salaries.  Broadband is also the cornerstone of entrepreneurship, and absolutely necessary to start and maintain any type of business.

Fraud Prevention Will Be Addressed!

It's interesting to note that included in the Lifeline broadband expansion is a 3rd party fraud prevention verification system.  To date, Lifeline programs have been plagued with fraud.  This is when eligible families are getting free cell phone service through multiple Lifeline service providers (i.e. they get two or more free phones and service, when the regulation only allows for one).  Clearly this type of fraud creates a massive expense for the program, which results in some eligible families not getting their rightful chance to get approved, and raises the overall operational costs for everyone.

Fraud tools include a national database that will be used to ensure that no one household gets more than one phone and service.  Up until now there has been the creation of such a database, however, it hasn't been mandatory, nor has it been fully built out to be truly usable and effective.  There has also been a fraud issue with people not using their correct address, which has disqualified other people from getting the service when the system shows that they already have the service at that address.  This can happen accidentally (ex. mistakenly applying with the wrong apartment number), or maliciously when people are trying to proactively defraud the system.


Overall, a Lifeline broadband is a welcome addition, and very much needed in today's data driven society.  As these programs launch I will maintain a list on this site, so please check back often so you can keep up to date on the latest developments!

Note that there are other non-Lifeline programs that offer free broadband.  Head over to Free Broadband Internet Access to learn about that, or lean more about Free Cell Phone Service!  Official information from the FCC can be found at FCC Lifeline Support Affordable Communications.

Lifeline Broadband Free Internet

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