By FELICIA FONSECA
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Federal regulators have approved major changes to a program that provides discounted phone service to low-income residents on tribal land.
About 12.5 million people across the country use Lifeline, a program created 30 years ago to improve access to phone service.
The program gives subscribers a $9.25 monthly discount on phone service. About 500,000 subscribers on tribal lands get an extra $25 monthly discount.
The Federal Communications Commission approved three changes Thursday that apply to tribal lands. They drop the deeper discount for phone providers that piggyback off existing infrastructure, establish new mapping of tribal lands and require independent verification of tribal residency.
The FCC says the changes are aimed at reducing waste, fraud and abuse.
Consumer advocates say excluding some providers will harm Indian Country.