Survey of Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program Subscribers Indicates Need for Consumers to Be Able to Choose Wireless Services

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NaLA releases survey of low-income consumer demographics and experiences with FCC internet subsidy programs

“NaLA’s survey shows that most Lifeline and ACP recipients live below the Federal Poverty Guidelines. It is crucial that lawmakers continue to support these programs to ensure that all Americans have affordable access to essential communications,” said David B. Dorwart, Chairman of the NaLA Board.

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) today released findings from its annual survey of Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) subscribers.

Survey results from more than 60,000 respondents indicate that low-income consumers use Lifeline and/or ACP service to connect to family and to access other government programs, healthcare, jobs and online education. Consumers rely on subsidized mobile broadband access to participate equally in all facets of daily life.

Other key insights:

  • Consumers want and need mobile wireless: Only 2.5% of those surveyed say fixed broadband alone would suffice. More than half of those surveyed said they would choose to have mobile and fixed broadband service if they could afford both, but 43% said mobile wireless services best meet their household needs.
  • Voice, text and data are all essential. While nearly 80% of consumers surveyed value access to voice, text and data equally, consumers indicated making and receiving calls as the most important form of communication.
  • Consumers want choice and control of their benefits. More than 90% of those surveyed prefer having the ability to combine Lifeline and ACP support in order to get more robust benefits. This practice is currently prohibited in the state of California, but it’s clear consumers prefer to have the ability to combine benefits.
  • Low-income consumers need affordable access to more mobile broadband than they currently use on limited plans and budgets. More than 90% of consumers throttle their data usage over the course of the month because they cannot afford to purchase more on top of their capped plans.
  • No co-pay plans are essential to keeping low-income Americans connected. Nearly 95% of Lifeline and ACP subscribers say they cannot afford any additional payments toward wireless services. Lifeline and ACP are essential to keep low-income Americans connected.
  • Most Lifeline/ACP subscribers lack access to credit and are unbanked. More than half of Lifeline/ACP subscribers surveyed do not have a debit or credit card or a bank account.

“Imagine life without mobile wireless access to the internet in 2022. It's nearly impossible to conceive of how a family could function. But without programs like Lifeline and ACP, many Americans would not have a phone number or an internet connection and would be cut off from society,” said David B. Dorwart, Chairman of the NaLA Board. “NaLA’s survey shows that the majority of Lifeline and ACP recipients live below the Federal Poverty Guidelines. This means that our programs are working to bring connectivity to those who need help the most. It is crucial that lawmakers continue to support these programs to ensure that all Americans have affordable access to essential communications.”

NaLA works toward the preservation and advancement of Lifeline and the ACP through stakeholder engagement, education, collaboration and advocacy. The Lifeline program and the ACP are federally-run programs that provide subsidized data, text and voice services to qualifying low-income Americans. The United Service Administrative Company administers both programs under the direction of the FCC.

To read more survey results, visit: http://www.nalalifeline.org.

About the National Lifeline Association (NaLA):

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) segment of the communications marketplace. NaLA works toward the preservation and advancement of Lifeline and the ACP through stakeholder engagement, education, collaboration and advocacy. We support all stakeholders in pursuit of a common goal: voice, text and broadband connectivity for all Americans. Though our ecosystem-wide membership that includes service providers, distributors, network access aggregators, compliance and software solutions vendors, device manufacturers, program supporters and beneficiaries, NaLA provides a platform to enable and realize of the goal of getting and keeping every low-income American connected to essential communications services. For more information on NaLA, visit https://www.nalalifeline.org.

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