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Category Archives: FCC

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Changes to Lifeline in 2018

Posted in FCC, USAC

By Danielle Frappier with contributions from Tanea Foglia   Although the future of the Lifeline program is in doubt, business must go on. ETCs should familiarize themselves with two key administrative changes taking place in 2018. New Lifeline Claim System (LCS) Replaces Form 497 The FCC issued a Public Notice last week reminding ETCs that… Continue Reading

FCC Takes Steps to Radically Reshape and Shrink the Lifeline Program

Posted in FCC

On November 16, 2017, a divided FCC voted 3-2 to adopt a controversial order and new rulemaking proceeding, adopting and proposing many changes that will radically reshape—and significantly shrink—the Lifeline program. The steps taken in the item signal that the now Republican-controlled FCC seeks to drastically reduce the role of the Lifeline program in the Universal… Continue Reading

Recertification and Non-Usage Rules Temporarily Waived for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Following Hurricane Irma

Posted in FCC

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has granted temporary waivers of the Lifeline non-usage and recertification rules to help the more than 1.1 million Lifeline customers in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands affected by Hurricane Irma. Both i-wireless, LLC and Telrite Corporation had filed separate petitions requesting waivers of the non-usage and recertification… Continue Reading

FCC Reduces Reporting Requirements for High Cost ETCs

Posted in FCC

Four days after ETCs were required to submit FCC Form 481 (54.313 / 54.422 Data Collection Form); the FCC released an order streamlining the process for high-cost USF recipients by eliminating reporting requirements it deemed “duplicative” or “simply no longer necessary.”  The new rules, which will take effect once OMB has published its approval in… Continue Reading

FCC Reminds ETCs of Responsibility to Prevent Lifeline Fraud

Posted in FCC

The FCC issued a Public Notice reminding ETCs that despite the safeguards put in place by NLAD and the pending National Verifier, and the transition of Lifeline enrollment to USAC, ETCs are ultimately responsible for ensuring that only eligible customers receive Lifeline support. The reminder comes shortly after the GAO released its report on the… Continue Reading

GAO Report on Lifeline Released

Posted in FCC

Yesterday, the GAO released its long-awaited report on the Lifeline program. The report has already generated multiple statements that waste, fraud and abuse are “prevalent,” and that “everything” is wrong with the program. No one asserts that the program is perfectly structured or administered. And, where corrections and improvements in the program can be made,… Continue Reading

Increased Lifeline Minimum Service Standards and Budget Cap for 2018 Announced

Posted in FCC

In 2016, the FCC adopted its Lifeline Modernization Order, in which it introduced Lifeline subsidies for the provision of broadband services, and imposed graduated minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported broadband services. In that order, The FCC announced that on or before July 31 of each year it will publish a notice of the minimum standards… Continue Reading

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

FCC Chairman Pai Announces Plans to Require All Lifeline Providers to Seek Licenses from States—LBP Process to be Eliminated

Posted in FCC

On March 29, 2017, FCC Chairman Pai announced plans to initiate a proceeding at the FCC to eliminate the Lifeline Broadband Provider (“LBP”) designation process administered by its Wireline Competition Bureau. He also announced that the FCC will ask the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to send the pending court case concerning the LBP process… Continue Reading

FCC Seeks Comment on Petitions Appealing Cancellation of Lifeline Broadband Provider Designations

Posted in FCC

In a somewhat surprising move, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) released two Public Notices seeking comment on two appeals of the Bureau’s own cancellation of the Lifeline Broadband Provider designations issued only weeks ago.  One notice seeks comment on the appeal filed by a large group of public interest organizations, and the second notice… Continue Reading

Who Will Grant Licenses for Lifeline Broadband? FCC Takes a Pause in Pending Appeal to Consider New Administration’s Approach

Posted in FCC

Update: On Feb. 16, the DC Circuit granted the FCC’s motion. Last Friday, the FCC filed a motion with the DC Circuit to put a hold on the pending appeal of a portion of its 2016 Lifeline order finding that the FCC—and not the states—had sole jurisdiction to grant Lifeline broadband provider designations (“LBP”).  The… Continue Reading

FCC Cancels Recently Granted Lifeline Broadband Provider Licenses as Part of Larger Sweep of Wheeler-Era Decisions

Posted in FCC

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau recently granted nine Lifeline Broadband Provider (“LBP”) designations: four on December 1, 2016 and five more on January 18, 2017, as part of its effort launched last year by then-Chairman Wheeler to expand the provision of broadband services to the low income population.  The new LBP designation permits providers to… Continue Reading

FCC Chairman Pai Launches “Digital Empowerment Agenda” and Creates New Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee—Nominations Due Feb. 15

Posted in FCC

In one of his first acts as FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai announced he was moving forward with his Digital Empowerment Agenda accompanied by the announcement this past Tuesday that the FCC is forming a new federal advisory committee, to be called the New Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (“NBDAC”).  Then-Commissioner Pai had proposed the creation of… Continue Reading

DWT Gains Approval of Three Lifeline Broadband Provider Petitions Among Five New FCC Grants

Posted in FCC

On January 18, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued an order granting five Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) petitions, enabling the grantees to receive Lifeline support for the provision of broadband Internet access services to eligible applicants. As we reported in a prior post, the Bureau granted four LBP petitions on December 1, so the new… Continue Reading

FCC Clarifies Lifeline Obligations for High-Cost ETCs

Posted in FCC

In a brief Order released last Friday, the Wireline Competition Bureau clarified that recipients of high-cost funding were not required to create any standalone Lifeline-specific broadband service offerings. After the FCC issued the Lifeline Modernization Order in April 2016 there was some ambiguity regarding the obligations of ETCs receiving high-cost support from the federal USF. … Continue Reading

FCC Settles Largest Lifeline Enforcement Case for $30 million and Permanent Ban from the Program

Posted in FCC

We reported last spring on the FCC’s accusations against Total Call Mobile and proposed fine of more than $51 million relating to agent misconduct and the failure of company management to take sufficient and early corrective action.  The company has now settled the FCC enforcement case, as well as a related civil fraud case for… Continue Reading

FCC Grants States Extra Time to Implement Lifeline Rules

Posted in FCC, State

On December 1, 2016, the day before new eligibility and port freeze rules imposed by the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order on Lifeline-supported broadband services were to take effect, the FCC granted in part the petitions of eight states seeking waivers to delay implementation of a portion of the new Lifeline eligibility rules that remove state-specific… 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

FCC Guidance Issued for ETCs That Do Not Want to Provide Lifeline Broadband Services

Posted in FCC, National Lifeline Accountability Database

On Nov. 22nd, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice describing the requirement that ETCs who do not want to provide Lifeline-supported broadband internet access services (now known as “BIAS”) file a notice with the FCC. As we have previously described, when the FCC changed its rules in the Lifeline Modernization Order to… Continue Reading

FCC Proposes First-Ever Forfeiture Against Rural Health Care Program Service Provider, For $21.7 Million

Posted in FCC

On November 4, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (“NAL”) against Network Services Solutions, LLC (“NSS”) and its CEO, Scott Madison, alleging multiple and egregious violations of the Commission’s program rules pertaining to the federal Universal Service Fund’s (“USF”) Rural Health Care (“RHC”) Program.  An accompanying press release stated that the… Continue Reading

FCC Guidance on New Annual Re-Certification Rules Issued

Posted in FCC

Late last week, the FCC issued guidance on its new re-certification rules. The current rule requires Lifeline ETCs to conduct their annual re-certification efforts without regard to an individual subscriber’s Lifeline start date, and involved a complicated method of determining which subscribers were subject to the re-certification requirement for a given year. In contrast, the… Continue Reading

FCC Guidance Issued for Entities Interesting in Becoming Lifeline Broadband Providers

Posted in FCC

On September 30th the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice describing the new Lifeline Broadband Provider (“LBP”) designation process, including details regarding what applicants should include in their LBP applications. As we have previously stated, the FCC will offer a streamlined, 60-day LBP designation process for petitions that meet certain requirements, such as… Continue Reading

Effective Dates of New FCC Lifeline Rules Finalized

Posted in FCC

Earlier today, the FCC announced in the Federal Register that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the remaining changes to the FCC’s Lifeline rules that were adopted in last spring’s Lifeline Modernization Order.  We provide an updated “Track Changes” version of the FCC’s revised Lifeline rules showing when each of the rule changes… Continue Reading