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Lifeline Law Advisor Insight & Commentary on Lifeline Program Compliance & Regulatory Issues

Category Archives: General

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Rosenworcel Nominated for New FCC Term

Posted in FCC, General

On June 13, the White House announced that Jessica Rosenworcel, who served as an FCC commissioner from 2012 until her term expired on Dec. 31, 2016, will be nominated to a new term at the agency. Rosenworcel, a Democrat, has been a strong supporter of the E-rate program, and of broader efforts to close the… Continue Reading

New Lifeline Rules Take Effect December 2 and Draft Plan Released for National Verifier

Posted in General, USAC

The Lifeline program, created more than 30 years ago to make telephone service more affordable for low-income families, has undergone its most radical change to date.  Effective last Friday, Lifeline has been expanded to cover broadband (including the broadband component of bundles containing both voice and broadband service).  It is the last of four USF… Continue Reading

First Group of Lifeline Broadband Providers Designated by the FCC

Posted in FCC, General

On December 1, 2016, the FCC somewhat unexpectedly issued an order approving four Lifeline Broadband Provider (“LBP”) applications, which will permit the companies to receive Lifeline support for the provision of broadband Internet access services to qualified applicants.  While each of the applications was granted under the FCC’s 60-day streamlined designation process, it is particularly… Continue Reading

DWT Serves Up Fixed Fee Lifeline Compliance Service

Posted in General

Last month, DWT’s Lifeline Team introduced its Lifeline Compliance Service Menu, designed to give Lifeline providers five star regulatory support at reasonable rates.  DWT believes that the fear of high legal costs should not deter service providers from seeking the best Lifeline guidance available.  Fixed fee services include: Prix Fixe Option Annual review of Lifeline… Continue Reading

FCC Releases Eagerly Anticipated Lifeline Order

Posted in FCC, General

Four weeks after voting 3-2 along party lines to modernize the Lifeline program; the FCC has finally released the text  of the Order.  The new Lifeline rules: Provide a mechanism for Lifeline subsidies to support broadband service Eliminate voice service by December 2021 with few exceptions Create minimum service standards for broadband and mobile voice… Continue Reading

Commissioner Pai Seeks Information on Potential Lifeline Abuse

Posted in FCC, General, National Lifeline Accountability Database

Commissioner Pai is seeking to identify other wireless ETCs that were allegedly engaged in practices similar to those detailed in the FCC’s recent Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) issued against Total Call Mobile. In a letter to Chris Henderson, USAC’s CEO, Commissioner Pai states that sales agents for Total Call “testified that they worked side-by-side”… Continue Reading

Record Fine, Possible “Death Sentence” for Alleged Lifeline Violations Proposed by FCC

Posted in FCC, General, National Lifeline Accountability Database

On April 7, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) against a wireless Lifeline provider, Total Call Mobile, Inc. (“Total Call”).  An investigation conducted by the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) and the FCC Enforcement Bureau (“Bureau”) identified what the Commission characterizes as “willful and intentional misconduct persisting for multiple years” involving over… Continue Reading

TracFone Files Supplement to Emergency Petition for FCC Preemption on 911 Fees

Posted in FCC, General

As noted in our prior update, in November 2014, the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice requesting industry comment on a Petition filed by TracFone Wireless regarding 911 fees charged to Lifeline subscribers.  The Petition asked the FCC to issue a declaratory ruling on an emergency basis stating that state laws and regulations that impose… Continue Reading

Biennial Lifeline Audits Webinar Presented on May 20

Posted in FCC, General, USAC

On May 20, 2014, DWT’s Lifeline Team presented a webinar titled Biennial Lifeline Audits: Next Steps and the Tools You’ll Need. The presentation focused on the following topics: Overview: A refresher and what’s new in the final audit guidelines Next steps and practical tips (including hiring an auditor) Tools and technology To view the webinar,… Continue Reading

Twitter Account for Lifeline Law Advisor Launched

Posted in General

Lifeline Law Advisor recently launched its new Twitter account:  @LifelineLaw. Be sure to follow us to stay connected to insight and commentary from Davis Wright Tremaine on the federal Lifeline Program compliance and regulatory issues.

“Lifeline Awareness Week” Recognized by FCC, States, Congress and Public Interest Groups

Posted in FCC, General, State

The FCC, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) have designated September 9-15 as “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week.”  The week was marked by statements by a variety of officials.  The FCC’s Acting Chairwoman, Mignon Clyburn, issued a statement noting the importance of… Continue Reading

Washington Post Article Debunks “False Rumors” Surrounding Lifeline Program

Posted in General

An April 10th, 2013 Washington Post article by national political correspondent Karen Tumulty provides an informed and balanced perspective on the controversies swirling around the federal Lifeline program and ongoing Congressional scrutiny of it.  Among other things, Tumulty debunks claims that the Obama administration is distributing free cellphones (“Obamaphones”) to welfare recipients, that the program is a recent… Continue Reading

Sprint Filing Profiles Typical Lifeline Subscriber

Posted in General

In advance of Congressional hearings next week, Sprint Nextel filed with the FCC a snapshot of its Virgin Mobile/Assurance Wireless Lifeline subscriber base, providing insight into the demographic characteristics of Lifeline participants.  Sprint’s filing revealed that its average Lifeline subscriber is a 47 year-old woman with a household income of less than $14,000 per year.  More than… Continue Reading

Lifeline Subsidies a Significant Benefit According to Study

Posted in General

In a study titled “Subsidized Cell Phones Provide Significant Economic Gains for Poor and Near-Poor Americans,” Nicholas P. Sullivan, a fellow at the Center for Emerging Market Enterprises at the Fletcher School (Tufts University), investigates the economic impact a Lifeline-subsidized wireless phone has in the lives of low-income subscribers.  The study concludes that subsidized cell… Continue Reading