FCC Extends COVID-19-Related Broadband Subsidy Waivers

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

With the omicron variant of COVID-19 sweeping through the country and sweeping away plans for a more rapid return to normalcy, the Federal Communications Commission is extending some pandemic-related waivers that were to have expired December 31.

The FCC had waived some of its documentation requirements for participation in the Lifeline low-income broadband subsidy program, but that was to have run out at the end of this month.

On its own motion, meaning at the bureau level without a commission vote, the Wireline Competition Bureau has extended various Lifeline related waivers to March 31, 2022, and signaled it might have to extend them again if the situation warrants, saying "a new variant of the coronavirus has emerged that has contributed to uncertainty about the ongoing pandemic."

The rules being waived apply to "governing documentation requirements for subscribers residing in rural areas on Tribal lands, reverification, recertification, general de-enrollment and income documentation."

But the bureau warned providers that aside from the waivers, they remain subject to audits and investigations to make sure they are complying with the other rules, saying it was committed to preventing waste, fraud and abuse. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.