Counties Receiving Conditional Forbearance from Lifeline Voice Obligation Announced

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The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has released its latest Public Notice announcing the counties in which conditional forbearance from the obligation to offer Lifeline-supported voice service applies. This forbearance applies only to the Lifeline voice obligation of eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that receive both high-cost and Lifeline support (high-cost/Lifeline ETCs), and not to Lifeline-only ETCs. Appendix A to the Public Notice lists the counties where the Commission’s conditional forbearance will apply effective September 21, 2018. For ETCs that receive high-cost support in these counties, the forbearance applies only in areas within the county where the ETC does not receive high-cost support. The forbearance does not relieve high-cost/Lifeline ETCs of their obligation to provide Lifeline voice service to Lifeline subscribers that they serve as of July 23, 2018. In addition, the forbearance does not preclude ETCs from electing to provide and receive reimbursement for Lifeline-discounted voice service. The conditional forbearance will remain effective in the counties identified in Appendix A, to the extent that ETCs are not receiving federal high-cost universal service support in those areas, until 60 days after the Bureau issues a Public Notice in 2019 announcing an updated list of counties in which the FCC’s conditional forbearance applies.

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