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

Davis Wright Tremaine

Posts by Davis Wright Tremaine

Federal Court Halts Georgia $5 Minimum Lifeline Rate

Posted in State

Today, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a Preliminary Injunction halting implementation of a new Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) rule (Utility Rule 515-12-1-.35(3)(f)) that would have required Lifeline Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) in the state to bill and collect a minimum monthly rate of $5 or to provide a… Continue Reading

$5 Minimum Rate/500 Minute Rule Adopted in Georgia

Posted in State

Today (October 15), in a sharply divided 3-2 vote, the Georgia Public Service Commission (“PSC”) adopted a requirement that Lifeline ETCs either bill and collect a $5 minimum monthly Lifeline rate or offer a Lifeline plan that includes 500 monthly minutes.  The rule is slated to become effective on January 31, 2014.  In its entirety,… Continue Reading

UPDATE: NARUC Board Adopts Resolution to Simplify Annual Recertification and Speed Database Launch

Posted in State

UPDATE:  On July 24, the NARUC Board of Directors unanimously approved this Lifeline resolution.  The final version can be viewed here. Lifeline will be on the agenda once again at the summer meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (“NARUC”) in Denver on July 21-24.  Among the items to be considered is a Resolution to… Continue Reading

Tent/Vehicle Marketing Rules and Other Restrictions on Lifeline Marketing Now Effective in Oklahoma

Posted in State

 Although the Oklahoma Corporation Commission amended its Lifeline rules on March 14, 2013, they did not become effective until yesterday, July 11.  The new rules implement a number of changes, many of which are focused on marketing Lifeline services from tents and vehicles, as well as imposing a minimum number of minutes (1,000 on Tribal… Continue Reading

CPNI Rules Apply to Information Stored on Wireless Handsets

Posted in FCC

On June 27, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling that its Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) privacy rules apply to customer-specific information stored on wireless devices,  if the wireless carrier has caused the information to be stored on the device and has access to or control over that information. Thus, for example, customer-specific information stored in… Continue Reading

Minimum $5 Charge/500 Minute Proposal in Georgia on “Indefinite Hold;” Will Await Database Developments

Posted in State

In an interesting turn of events, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) today decided not to adopt proposed rules that would have imposed a requirement that Lifeline ETCs either bill and collect a $5 minimum monthly Lifeline rate or offer a Lifeline plan that includes 500 monthly minutes.  Instead, the PSC decided to put an “indefinite… Continue Reading

Maine PUC Cedes Lifeline ETC Designation and Regulation to FCC

Posted in State

On June 13, 2013, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) adopted an order ceding its jurisdiction over Lifeline-only ETCs, including initial designation of Lifeline ETCs, to the FCC.  The MPUC found that “there is no longer any advantage to Maine consumers, financial or otherwise, for the Commission to administer the Lifeline or Link-Up programs or… Continue Reading

Wheeler Confirmation Hearing for FCC Chairmanship Set for June 18

Posted in Congress

The U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee, chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), has scheduled a hearing on President Obama’s nomination of Thomas Wheeler to be Chairman of the FCC on Tuesday, June 18 at 2:30 PM Eastern.  The hearing will be webcast on the Committee’s website.  While a full Senate vote to approve Mr. Wheeler’s nomination theoretically… Continue Reading

Update: Georgia Commission Proposes to Add Annual Recertification Proof to Still-Pending $5 Minimum Rate Rule

Posted in State

On May 16, 2013 the Georgia PSC released the eighth in a series of Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPRs) since March 2012, to add a new obligation that every Lifeline subscriber “provide documented proof of eligibility as part of its annual FCC mandated recertification.”  FCC rules, by contrast, only require proof of income level or… 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

Lifeline Rules Being Revised in Oklahoma

Posted in State

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) issued two wide-ranging Notices of Proposed Rulemaking on December 19, 2012 to revise its universal service rules, with many proposals impacting Lifeline ETCs.  In one (Cause No. RM 201200013), the OCC proposes new rules for Lifeline ETCs that would outlaw marketing from mobile locations; require free 611 dialing to customer… Continue Reading

$5 Minimum Fee Imposed by Georgia Commission

Posted in State

On January 16, 2013, in an acrimonious 3-2 vote, the Georgia PSC adopted revisions to its rule governing Lifeline service in the state (Rule 515-12-1-.35) to, among other things, institute a minimum monthly rate for lifeline service of $5 and to require Lifeline providers to review and retain a copy of a photo ID of… Continue Reading

Lifeline Savings Exceed $210 Million in 2012

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… Continue Reading