FCC Grants Oglala Sioux Tribe Limited Waiver of Lifeline Re-certification Deadlines

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The Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has granted the Oglala Sioux Tribe a limited waiver of the Lifeline recertification deadlines to assist the more than 3,000 Lifeline participants residing on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Tribe requested a temporary waiver because of a dramatic decrease in successful re-certifications and to prevent additional subscribers from being de-enrolled. The FCC’s rules require Lifeline providers to recertify their customers’ continued Lifeline eligibility every 12 months, and where eligibility cannot be determined, obtain a re-certification from the subscriber. If a subscriber does not respond to re-certification requests within 60 days, a provider must de-enroll the subscriber. The Tribe explained the unique challenges that recertification poses for its residents including harsh weather, lack of English fluency, and the great distances involved for residents to recertify in person. The Pine Ridge Reservation, one of the largest reservations, includes 40,000 residents, with more than half living below the poverty line. Based on the compelling circumstances, the Bureau found good cause to waive for 150 days the rules for all providers serving Reservation Lifeline subscribers to allow for continued service to residents whose Lifeline services have not been deactivated. The FCC will also allow Lifeline subscribers 210 days, instead of 60 days, to recertify their continued eligibility.

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