FCC Seeks Comment on TracFone Lifeline Clarification Request

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The Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) seeks comment on a request for clarification filed by TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TracFone) of the Lifeline minimum service standards established in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order (2016 Order). TracFone requests clarification of the LifeLine rules because it believes certain Lifeline providers are wrongly freezing customer accounts for twelve months without providing broadband Internet service. TracFone states that between December 2016 and January 2017, it experienced a sudden and unanticipated decline in the number of Lifeline consumers transferring to its Lifeline service relative to the number of customers transferring out of TracFone’s service to other Lifeline providers’ services. Upon investigation, TracFone determined that certain Lifeline providers were abusing the FCC’s rules by freezing and locking up customers for twelve months when those Lifeline customers were enrolled in voice-only service. TracFone submits that such practice violates the intent of the rules because Lifeline accounts for voice-only services may only be frozen for sixty days. According to TracFone, the FCC provided a twelve month freeze period for broadband services only as an incentive for greater investment in advanced services through longer term relationships with customers. Comments are due by March 2, 2017, and reply comments by March 9, 2017.

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