The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to expand Lifeline, a government program that subsidizes telephone service for the poor. Yet very little is understood about the people who depend on the assistance.
California, New York and Florida are among the states that depend on the subsidy the most. The Golden State tops the list with about 1.5 million subscribers, according to data from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), while the Empire State has just under 1 million. Wyoming and South Dakota have the fewest subscribers.
States and tribal territories that offer both of the top Lifeline providers—Assurance Wireless, a subsidiary of Virgin Mobile, and SafeLink Wireless, a subsidy of TracFone—tend to have the largest subscriber figures, according to Philip Colvin of USAC, which serves as the program's administrator.
He added that those mobile providers are the most aggressive at promoting Lifeline plans, which is probably why they have the most subscribers.