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FCC Funds Lifeline Broadband Adoption Test Bed

The FCC has tapped 14 telecoms for a pilot broadband
adoption program using savings from its reform of the Lifeline program.

The reform of the Lifeline phone subsidy program yielded $214
million in 2012, the FCC announced, $14 million over its projection of $200
million. It was part of a broader FCC effort to both reform that program and
migrate that and other phone subsidies to broadband.

The FCC said that $214 million savings came from a variety
of sources, but it covered virtually all the new pilot program with savings
from a single link-up subsidy. It said that by eliminating "unnecessary
bounties" for new sign-ups, the link-up expenditures went from $14 million
to under $200,000.

And in the cutting waste fraud and abuse department, the FCC
said that requiring proof of income eligibility, subsidies dropped by $40
million in a single month and that it had cut over a million duplicates from
its subscriber roles, or about $128 million in savings.

That $14 million in bonus bucks will go toward the pilot
project, which will both provide data on how Lifeline funds can be used to
boost broadband adoption among low-income consumers, as well as provide 75,000
unserved residents of 21 states and Puerto Rico access to broadband, at least
for a year.

The money will fund a mix of wireless and wireline broadband
projects that will run for 18 months including set-up and data collection. The
companies must provide subsidized service for at least a year.

The 14 telecoms are:

  1. Frontier Communications Corporation (OH, WV)
  2. Gila River Telecommunications, Inc. (AZ - Tribal)
  3. Hopi Telecommunications, Inc. (AZ - Tribal)
  4. National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) Project, which
    includes the following carriers: Alpine Communications (IA); and Leaco Rural
    Telephone (NM)
  5. Nexus Communications, Inc. (OH, MI, IA, NV, CA, LA, MS, NJ) 
  6. Partnership for a Connected Illinois Project, which includes the following
    carriers: Adams Telephone Cooperative; Cass Telephone Company; Harrisonville
    Telephone Company; Madison Telephone Company; Mid-Century Telephone
    Cooperative; Shawnee Telephone Company; and Wabash Telephone Cooperative (IL)
  7. PR Wireless, Inc. (Puerto Rico)
  8. Puerto Rico Telephone Company (Puerto Rico)
  9. T-Mobile Puerto Rico LLC (Puerto Rico)
  10. TracFone Wireless, Inc. project using smartphones (FL, MD, TX, WA, WI, MA) 
  11. Troy Cablevision, Inc. (AL)
  12. Vermont Telephone Company, Inc. (VT)
  13. Virgin Mobile USA, L.P. (MA, OH)
  14. XChange Telecom Corp. (NY)