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Lifeline Program Hurricane Relief Orders

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued orders to assist Lifeline participants affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

FCC Orders

FCC Order DA 17-860 released September 7, 2017 (for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico) and FCC Order DA 17-864 released September 8, 2017 (for Florida and parts of Georgia):

  • Temporary waiver of the following rules for 90 days for service providers serving Lifeline subscribers in the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico:
    • 54.405(e)(3): De-enrollment for non-usage
    • 54.405(e)(4): De-enrollment for failure to recertify
    • 54.407(c)(2): Non-usage
    • 54.410(f): Annual eligibility re-certification process
  • At the expiration of the waiver period:
    • Lifeline subscribers subject to non-usage rules will have 30 days to use their Lifeline service
    • Subscribers whose service anniversary dates fell during the waiver period will have 60 days to respond to recertification efforts

FCC Order DA 17-984 released October 6, 2017

  • Extension of the temporary waiver rules 54.405(e)(3), 54.405(e)(4), 54.407(c)(2), 54.410(f), and 54.411 through February 28, 2018 for service providers service Lifeline subscribers that reside in Affected Disaster Areas
    • 54.411: Port freeze rule
    • Waiver of recertification rules applies to subscribers whose anniversary dates fall from September 7, 2017 to February 28, 2018

FCC Order DA 17-1066 released October 31, 2017

  • Extension of the temporary waiver of the recertification rules for subscribers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands through anniversary dates of March 31, 2018.

Lifeline Bulletin: September 15, 2017 – FCC Issues Hurricane Irma and Lifeline Program Orders

USAC and the FCC recognize that Hurricane Irma has caused significant damage to the areas within its path, including substantial damage to the communications networks. The result of this damage includes power and network outages and service disruptions throughout Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida, and in parts of Georgia.

On September 7th and 8th, the FCC granted 90-day waivers related to the Lifeline Program's non-usage and recertification rules for the impacted state and territories.

Non-Usage Extension

Under these waivers, for Lifeline ETCs serving customers in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, and parts of Georgia, the FCC temporarily suspends the non-usage rules that require a service provider to de-enroll a customer who does not pay a monthly fee for their Lifeline-supported service and does not use that service for 30 consecutive days.

At the end of the 90-day period (December 6, 2017 for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and December 7, 2017 for Florida), subscribers who do not use their Lifeline supported device for a consecutive 30 day period will be de-enrolled per program rules.

For customers in the state and territories who are already in a 30 day non-usage period, the subscriber will be given the full 30 days after the 90 day period.

Recertification Extension

Additionally, the FCC has granted service providers additional time to recertify subscribers in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, and parts of Georgia whose anniversary dates fall within 90 days of the Orders (September 7 – December 6 for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, September 8 – December 7 for Florida).

At the end of the additional time, all subscribers included in this group will have 60 days to complete the recertification process. For customers in the state and territories who are already in a 60 day non-usage period, the subscriber will be given the full 60 days after the 90 day period.

Many service providers conduct their recertification in batches. Any subscriber who has completed their 60-day recertification period prior to September 7th or 8th as appropriate, and has failed to recertify, either by indicating that they are no longer eligible for the program or by not responding to recertification outreach should be de-enrolled per program rules.

Service providers can resend recertification materials to those subscribers who are eligible for the extended recertification process, but must allow exactly 60 days for subscriber recertification.

This delayed recertification will not reset subscribers' eligibility anniversary dates or change the timing for their future recertification.