Catherine W. Seidel is the Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Her letter below was sent to Hearing Loss Association to highlight the importance of Lifeline and Link Up services. Many people, including those with hearing loss, who have been searching for jobs or have recently lost their jobs in the current economic climate, may be able to benefit from this service that helps keep people connected to phone services they need. For more information, read Ms. Seidel’s letter below:
I'm writing to inform you about an important consumer-oriented initiative, the "National Lifeline and Link Up Telephone Discount Awareness Week," which takes place September 14 - 20, 2009. Various state and local agencies throughout the country will be participating with outreach activities and events. The "Lifeline" and "Link Up" programs provide financial assistance to low-income consumers in connecting a residential phone line and paying their monthly bill. The programs have been active for years and are administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and state public utility commissions.
However, those who provide direct assistance to low-income consumers may be unfamiliar with the programs - at least half of eligible consumers nationwide do not take advantage of this assistance.
"Lifeline" involves discounts on monthly charges for a primary residential telephone line, including wireless service. "Link Up" involves a discount on the cost of initiating the primary telephone service for a residence, including the activation of a wireless phone that serves as the primary residential telephone. The discounts are available throughout the country, including an enhanced discount on Tribal lands. In general, consumers at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, or who participate in one or more of a number of other assistance programs, are eligible for Lifeline and Link Up.
Find out about the discounts available in your state and how to apply.
Information on telephone subscribership in your state is available in the FCC's recently released Telephone Subscribership Report (pdf) . You may be particularly interested in the state-by-state information available in Tables 4 (Percentage of Households with a Telephone by Income) and 7 (Percentage of Adults with a Telephone by Labor Force Status).
We ask you to join us in raising awareness of these important programs by posting information about Lifeline and Link Up in your offices, distributing information on the programs to your staff and to the consumers you serve, forwarding this information to other organizations in your community, writing an article for a local paper that reaches consumers, or linking to http://www.lifeline.gov
. Several outreach tools to assist you are also available.
For more information, please call us at 1-888-CALL-FCC, or access our dedicated Lifeline and Link Up e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Thank you for your assistance in improving consumer access to these important programs.
Catherine W. Seidel
Chief, FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau