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The program will, however, stay open to Native American communities.

The FCC plans to fix the Lifeline program with a series of reforms.

The commission is creating a National Lifeline Accountability Database, which will be up and running within 12 months, to streamline the program to prevent multiple carriers from receiving support for the same subscriber.

In 2011, the system was tested in 12 states and caught 270,000 duplicate subscribers, saving $33 million. That showed that about 7 percent of subscribers had multiple subscriptions.

“Part of the problem was Company A had no way of knowing whether Company B was already providing a phone,” Mr. Genachowski explained. “That’s going to happen very quickly.”

But aside from addressing the duplicate problem, it would do little to ensure customers meet the low-income eligibility requirements, Mr. McDowell said.

Customers would be required to show proof that they participate in other subsidy programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, the National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program, or Section 8 Housing. But photo identification would not be required.

“Currently, there’s no way to verify who’s eligible with certainty,” he said.

So a second eligibility database, which would require subscribers to prove who they are and that they qualify, will also be up and running by the end of 2013.