Friday, August 29, 2008

New York's Household Telephone Penetration and Lifeline Enrollment Falling

In its latest report on telephone penetration in the United States, the FCC found that from November 2007 to March 2008 (the date of the most recent data), the percentage of households in New York State with a telephone remained at 94.2 percent. By comparison, the national average is 95.2 percent, up from 94.9 percent in November. The New York numbers are lower than neighboring states Connecticut (97.4 percent), Massachusetts (96.4 percent), Vermont (97.3 percent), Pennsylvania (97.7 percent), and New Jersey (94.3 percent).

Meanwhile, the most recent numbers from the FCC on Lifeline subscribership (dated 2006), released on the same day as the 2008 subscribership data, reveal only 352,919 Lifeline customers in New York, even though there well over 900,000 readily identifiable households eligible for Lifeline by reason of their receipt of HEAP or Food Stamps or other income-based benefit programs.

According to the PSC, Lifeline assistance dropped again in 2007 to about 310,000. In 1996, the number of Lifeline customers in New York had exceeded 750,000, and household penetration reached its highest rate for NY at 95.8 percent in 2002. Since then, more than 400,000 low income customers have lost Lifeline discount service, and 112,000 fewer households have telephone service.

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