FCC commissioners late 2012

The FCC took significant steps to cut the waste from its Lifeline phone subsidy program at the start of last year. However, it might not have gone far enough, if an FCC review of the program prompted by the Wall Street Journal is an indicator. Among the top five providers receiving money for telecom service to the poor in 2012, 41 percent of their customers either couldn't or didn't prove they were eligible. The lack of answers leaves a real possibility that some of the $2.2 billion spent on Lifeline in 2012 might have gone to those who didn't need it. In response, the FCC is keen to claim that its reforms may have saved $214 million last year, but it isn't happy that there may still have been money going down the tubes -- it's investigating the accusations and could levy fines of up to $1.5 million per violation. While only Verizon has gone on the record and says it's been dropping customers who wouldn't prove their eligibility, it's likely we'll know more about the potential excesses in the near future.

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FCC: 41 percent of Lifeline phone subsidies in 2012 weren't verified