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

Lifeline Savings Exceed $210 Million in 2012

Davis Wright Tremaine Posted in FCC

On December 19, 2012, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that savings from the recent reforms of its Lifeline program totaled about $214 million in 2012, exceeding its $200 million target.  Proclaiming that “eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse protects Lifeline’s mission of helping low-income Americans afford vital communications service,” the FCC said that the program cost savings is primarily attributable to: (1) its elimination of the “Link Up” subsidy for new connections (except by high cost carriers in Tribal lands), resulting in a decrease in support payments from $14 million to less than $200,000 per month; (2) new requirements that carriers obtain proof of eligibility from new subscribers, resulting in $40 million in savings; (3) enforcing the Lifeline “one per household” restriction by reviewing over 12 million subscriber records on a state-by-state basis and eliminating over a million duplicate subscriptions, resulting in $128 million in annualized savings, with further savings to come as the FCC develops a database to automatically check for duplicate subscriptions; and (4) requiring ETCs to annually verify the continued eligibility of their Lifeline subscribers.  The FCC also announced that it has launched a “Lifeline Fraud Tip Line” (855-4LL-TIPS) and an email address (Lifelinetips@fcc.gov) to report possible fraud in the program.