The Federal Communications Commission has refocused its “Lifeline” program to emphasize support for high speed Internet access.
For the first time, the Lifeline program will support stand-alone broadband service as well as bundled voice and data service packages.
The revised program provides support for stand-alone mobile or fixed broadband Internet access service, as well as bundles including fixed or mobile voice and broadband.
Citizens and residents in rural areas already have been opting for mobile Internet access at significant rates.
The top five mobile-only household states are Arkansas (35.2 percent), Mississippi (35.1 percent), Texas (32.5 percent), North Dakota (32.3 percent) and Idaho (31.7 percent of households are wireless broadband only).
All of states are largely rural.
The bottom five mobile-only household states are New Hampshire (16.0 percent), South Dakota (15.6 percent), Connecticut (13.6 percent), New Jersey (12.8 percent) and Rhode Island (12.0 percent), states that are mostly urban.
The results suggest that rural households appear to value wireless access more highly than urban areas. Across the United States, about 25 percent of households use only mobile broadband.
The new rules set a minimum of 10 Mbps downloads/1 Mbps uploads. Minimum monthly fixed broadband usage starts at 150 GB.
The new rules phase in minimum standards for mobile broadband service, starting at 500 MB per month of 3G data by Dec. 1, 2016, 1 GB by Dec. 1, 2017, and increasing to 2 GB per month by the end of 2018
Mobile voice monthly standards are set at 500 min/mo., beginning on Dec. 1, 2016; 750 min/mo. on Dec. 1, 2017; and 1,000 min/mo., starting on Dec. 1, 2018.