Webster-Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association Provides Low-Income Telephone and Internet Services in Conjunction with the Federal Government Lifeline Program

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Effective December 2nd, changes to the federal Lifeline Program for Low-Income Telephone Assistance now includes Internet access.

“WCCTA now has all the information on the Lifeline program located on our website. Customers can download the certification forms along with all the requirements,” states Marcie Boerner, Office Manager at Webster-Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association.

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On December 2nd, WCCTA and broadband providers became eligible to participate in the Lifeline Program and to offer subsidized service to customers within their service areas as the program begins a transition from phone to broadband Internet access assistance. Lifeline is a plan that assists qualified low-income Iowans by providing a monthly reduction of $9.25 on their local telephone bill or broadband Internet access service bill.

The FCC has also changed the rules for eligibility for Lifeline. Customers may continue to verify eligibility through proof of participation in SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSL), Federal Public Housing Assistance. In addition, participation in Veteran’s Pension or Survivor Benefits now may be used as proof of Lifeline eligibility. Participation in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the school lunch program, or the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) will no longer be accepted as proof of eligibility. Rules allow assistance on only one wireline or wireless voice or Internet provider per household.

The changes in the verification requirements were made by the FCC to pave the way for an eventual move to an electronic verification system that will rely on electronic records. The federal subsidy for mobile or fixed broadband will remain at $9.25 per month through November 2021. However, the federal monthly subsidy for both landline and wireless voice service will be phased out, decreasing to $7.25 on December 1, 2019; to $5.15 on December 1, 2020; and phasing out completely on December 1, 2021. The only exception will be in the areas with only a single Lifeline provider, where the subsidy for voice service will remain at $5.25 beyond that date.

The federal government provides the subsidy, which comes from the federal Universal Service Fund. The federal USF is assessed on all telecommunications carriers and is recovered through a monthly surcharge on telephone bills.

“WCCTA now has all the information on the Lifeline program located on our website. Customers can download the certification forms along with all the requirements,” states Marcie Boerner, Office Manager at Webster-Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association (WCCTA).

Webster-Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association is located at 1106 Beak Street, Gowrie, IA 50543. It has a Fiber driven network and provides landline telephone, Internet and digital television service to the Iowa communities of Gowrie, Pilot Mound, Vincent, Thor, Churdan, Knierim, Somers, Barnum, Duncombe, Farnhamville, Badger, Clare, Moorland, Boxholm, Lanyon and http://www.wccta.net.

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Marcie Boerner

Cheryl O'Hern
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