Idaho Telephone Service Assistance Program


Telephone service is considered a necessity for daily modern life. Yet the cost of starting and maintaining such service may be too high for some consumers. Under Congressional mandate, the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) supports the Lifeline Assistance program. This program provides discounts on basic monthly service and initial installation or activation fees for telephone service to income-eligible consumers.

The Universal Service Fund (USF) was created by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1997 to meet the goals of Universal Service as mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The 1996 Act states that all providers of telecommunications services should contribute to federal universal service in some equitable and nondiscriminatory manner; there should be specific, predictable, and sufficient Federal and State mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service; all schools, classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should, generally, have access to advanced telecommunications services; and finally, that the Federal-State Joint Board and the FCC should determine those other principles that, consistent with the 1996 Act, are necessary to protect the public interest. As of the first quarter of 2010, the USF fee equals 14.1 percent of a telecom company’s interstate and end-user revenues.


The major goals of Universal Service as mandated by the 1996 Act are as follows:

  • To promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable, and affordable rates,
  • To increase access to advanced telecommunications services throughout the Nation,
  • To advance the availability of such services to all consumers, including those in low income, rural, insular, and high cost areas at rates that are reasonably comparable to those charged in urban areas,
  • To increase access to telecommunications and advanced services in schools, libraries and rural health care facilities,
  • To provide equitable and non-discriminatory contributions from all providers of telecommunications services to the fund supporting universal service programs.


Lifeline – Lifeline provides qualified consumers with a discount on monthly charges for their primary home phone line, even if it’s a cell phone.


These discounts are available to qualifying consumers throughout Idaho. Eligibility is determined by the total household income that does not exceed 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). Click here to view the income guidelines.