FCC Grants Waivers of Initial Lifeline Certification Rules

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The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has granted permanent waivers of the FCC’s initial Lifeline certification rules to six states and the Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) operating in those states.  The Bureau has granted a temporary waiver of those rules to California and ETCs operating in California.  In certain states, a Lifeline administrator or state agency makes the initial determination of whether subscribers are eligible to participate in the Lifeline program.  Pursuant to the FCC’s rules, ETCs in such states must obtain a completed eligibility certification form from the administrator or agency for a Lifeline subscriber before the ETC seeks reimbursement from the USF for providing Lifeline services to the subscriber.  The Bureau has granted a permanent waiver of these initial Lifeline certification rules, effective on February 1, 2014, to Vermont, Utah, Nebraska, Florida, Oregon, and Idaho, and ETCs operating in those states.  Under the terms of the waiver, the Lifeline administrator in these states must notify ETCs that a prospective Lifeline subscriber meets the income- or program-based eligibility criteria.  If the state Lifeline administrator or agency does not perform the task of populating the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), it must provide ETCs with the information that is needed to enter each subscriber in the NLAD.  The Bureau granted California and ETCs operating in California a temporary waiver of the FCC’s initial Lifeline certification rules.  Similar to the permanent waivers, California’s waiver is effective retroactively from February 1, 2014, and will continue until the sooner of December 31, 2014, or when California comes into full compliance with the rules.  The waiver is expected to give California additional time to amend its contract with its state Lifeline administrator which will result in ETCs receiving electronic copies of certification forms in full compliance with the FCC’s rules.

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