Subsidized broadband program speeds up, but Colorado customers must upgrade to keep discount |

Subsidized broadband program speeds up, but Colorado customers must upgrade to keep discount

The federal Lifeline program provides $9.25 to low-income consumers for wireless or broadband service. But the FCC’s upgrade on Dec. 1 may leave some CenturyLink or mobile customers behind -- and with higher bills.

A national low-income broadband program will get a speed boost on Tuesday as new federal requirements go into effect for the Lifeline service.

But not all Lifeline customers will automatically see the upgrade to 25 megabits per second from 20 mbps for fixed broadband service, or an increase to 11.75 gigabytes of data for wireless customers. 

Over at CenturyLink, customers must upgrade to the faster and likely more costly 25 mbps speed or otherwise lose their Lifeline discount. Failure to upgrade on time would result in a slower than 25 mbps service that Lifeline offers and no discount. CenturyLink, which rebranded this year and is now part of Lumen Technologies, is one of the largest telecoms offering internet and phone service in Colorado. 

“Effective December 1, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) qualification for Lifeline broadband speeds will change from 20M/3M to 25M/3M. Failure to contact CenturyLink, to upgrade your speed, will result in the removal of the Lifeline discount,” notes the company’s website.

Lumen officials won’t say how many customers it has on Lifeline services. And it doesn’t make it easy to see how much faster service costs. According to a Lumen price-check link, 100 mbps service to a home in Denver runs $49 to $65 a month, depending on the promotion. But in Estes Park, a 30 mbps connection is $49. In Montrose, $49 covers the cost of 10 mbps, which would make customers ineligible for the Lifeline discount.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the federal program provides discounts of $9.25 a month to nearly 60,000 Coloradans. The subsidy can be used for telephone, mobile or broadband service.

To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.

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