Georgia could become the first state to charge low-income residents $5 a month for what is now free cellphone service aimed at assuring the poor have access to basic communications.
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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has closely followed state regulators’ concerns about the Lifeline program since they emerged last year. Critics on the Public Service Commission began discussing tougher rules after a federal report found that as many as one in six users of the free phone service obtained it through fraud. Opponents of the charge say new rules have tightened the program and the charge would hurt low-income consumers.