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Category Archives: FCC

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FCC Proposes $63 Million Lifeline Fine

Posted in FCC

The FCC has proposed a $63.5 million fine against American Broadband and Telecommunications Company for alleged Lifeline violations. The Notice of Apparent Liability alleges that American Broadband falsified Lifeline customer accounts by enrolling more than 12,000 deceased customers, manipulated existing customers’ personal information to create new subscribers, and failed to de-enroll ineligible subscribers. In all,… Continue Reading

Lifeline’s National Verifier to Add Five More States and One Territory

Posted in FCC

On October 11, 2018, the FCC announced the soft launch of the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) in Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota. This announcement comes shortly after the FCC announced the full launch of the National Verifier in Colorado, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming a little over… Continue Reading

Lifeline’s National Verifier Launching in Six States in November 2018

Posted in FCC

On October 2, 2018, the FCC announced that it will finally launch the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) in an initial slate of six states on November 2, 2018.  Lifeline providers in these states—Colorado, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—will be required to determine Lifeline subscribers’ eligibility using the National Verifier beginning on… Continue Reading

FCC Seeks Comments on Emergency Petition to Delay Launch of Lifeline’s National Verifier

Posted in FCC

On August 13, 2018, the FCC issued a Public Notice requesting comments on an Emergency Petition filed by Tracfone Wireless, Inc. (“Tracfone”) requesting the FCC expedite implementation of the National Eligibility Verifier (“National Verifier”). Specifically, Tracfone asks the FCC to accelerate the acquisition of information from key state databases (such as SNAP enrollment databases) and… Continue Reading

Federal Appellate Court Puts a Hold on FCC’s Lifeline Order

Posted in FCC

On August 10, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted a stay of the FCC’s 2017 Lifeline Order (“Order”).  The court found that the petitioners provided enough evidence that the FCC did not consider the Order’s significant impact on tribal customers.  Specifically, the Order limited the eligibility to provide Lifeline to… Continue Reading

Lifeline Port Freeze Eliminated on March 19; 2018 Poverty Guidelines Available; New Standard Forms

Posted in FCC

By Danielle Frappier with Contributions from Tanea Foglia 2018 Poverty Guidelines The 2018 Federal Poverty Guidelines (“FPG”) were published in the Federal Register on January 18. Customers may qualify for Lifeline if their gross total household income is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. ETCs should update their certification forms and… Continue Reading

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