Lifeline

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LI Program News - November 18, 2016

November 18, 2016

Reminder! Lifeline Modernization Rules Effective December 2

New rules from the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order take effect on Friday, December 2, 2016. Service providers should be prepared to comply with these rules, which include:

 

  • Lifeline for broadband: Provide your customer with the option to use the Lifeline benefit on either fixed/mobile broadband or voice service (still only one benefit per household).
  • New and retired eligibility programs: Customers can use the Federal Veterans Pension or Survivors Benefit to qualify for the Lifeline Program, but can no longer use LIHEAP, TANF, or the National School Lunch Program's free lunch program.
  • Minimum service standards: Starting December 2, 2016, through November 30, 2017, Lifeline-supported voice services must provide at least 500 minutes per month; mobile broadband must be a speed of at least 3G with a usage allowance of 500 MB; fixed broadband must be a speed of 10/1 Mbps or greater, with a usage allowance of 150 GB. The minimum service standards are subject to change annually.
  • Benefit port freeze: Customers must remain with their service provider for a minimum of 60 days (voice) or 12 months (fixed/mobile broadband) before switching their Lifeline benefit to a different provider (limited exceptions apply).
  • Rolling recertification: Service providers must annually verify each customer's continued eligibility on a rolling basis by the customer's service initiation anniversary date (12 months after the service initiation date and every 12 months afterward).
  • Usage and non-usage: The non-usage period is shortened from 60 to 30 days, and the cure period is shortened from 30 to 15 days. Outgoing texts count as usage.

IN THIS ISSUE

Rule Changes Effective Dec. 2

 

Lifeline Broadband Obligations

 

USAC-Elected Recertification due Dec. 15

 

Rolling Recertification Public Notice Highlights

 

Draft National Verifier Plan

 

QUESTIONS? / FEEDBACK

The Lifeline Program team is here to help you! Visit the Contact Us page and let us know how we can help you.

More About Lifeline Broadband, Beginning December 2

All current Lifeline service providers are required to begin offering Lifeline-supported broadband service on December 2 unless they have filed for forbearance with the FCC.

 

Service providers offering broadband service pursuant to their High Cost support public interest obligations are required to offer Lifeline-supported broadband in those service areas. To look up Lifeline broadband obligations by High Cost funding mechanism, please see the FCC's summary chart.

 

We are working to update our website to identify broadband providers in each state so please let us know if, when, and where you are offering Lifeline-supported broadband service.

Service Providers Can Elect USAC to Perform the 2017 Rolling Recertification Process on their Behalf – Elections due Dec. 15

Lifeline Program service providers are required to recertify each of their Lifeline subscribers' eligibility annually, and beginning in 2017, must use a new process called rolling recertification.

 

Service providers can elect USAC to conduct the recertification process on their behalf, at no cost. To participate, notify USAC using the recertification election spreadsheet by Thursday, December 15, 2016.

 

Visit our website to learn more about the Recertification Election Option. Service providers that did not elect USAC last year and do not make an election by December 15 will be responsible for conducting their own rolling recertification process.

Highlights from the FCC's Public Notice about Rolling Recertification

The FCC released a Public Notice on October 27, 2016, with additional guidance about the rolling recertification process.

 

Service providers conduct annual recertification on a rolling basis, starting with customers who have July 1, 2017 anniversary dates. For that group, service providers must complete the rolling recertification process – including allowing 60 calendar days for customers to respond and de-enrolling ineligible/non-responsive customers from NLAD – by July 1, 2017. More information about the Rolling Recertification process is available on USAC's website.

 

New guidance in the Public Notice includes:

 

Complete recertification by the customer's anniversary date.

The rolling recertification process must be completed, not started or in progress, by the customer's anniversary date. The process is considered complete only when the service provider has de-enrolled an ineligible or non-responsive subscriber.

 

Begin recertification within 150 days of the anniversary date.

USAC and the FCC strongly encourage service providers to begin recertification no earlier than 150 days before the customer's anniversary date. This will keep the annual recertification process fairly aligned with the customer's anniversary date. For example, providers should begin recertification efforts for customers with anniversary dates on July 1, 2017 (the first anniversary date that rolling recertification is required) no earlier than February 2, 2017.

 

Anniversary date is based on the first day of service with the current provider.

The Public Notice clarifies that when a customer transfers their Lifeline benefit, their new anniversary date is the first day of service with the new provider (not their first day receiving a Lifeline benefit from any former provider).

 

Service providers can still elect USAC to perform recertification on their behalf.

As in prior years, service providers can elect USAC to perform the rolling recertification process on their behalf. USAC will begin offering the service for anniversary dates in July 2017 (after the transition period for anniversary dates from January to June 2017). To participate, visit the Recertification Election Option page and submit the election spreadsheet by December 15, 2016. The Public Notice also outlines USAC's process for conducting rolling recertification on service providers' behalf.

 

If you have questions about the rolling recertification process, please send them to LIVerifications@usac.org.

USAC's Draft National Verifier Plan due Nov. 30

On November 30, 2016, USAC will submit a draft National Verifier plan to the FCC, and it will be posted to the USAC website in early December. We will announce its availability as soon it has been posted.
 
The National Verifier will use both electronic and manual methods to process eligibility determinations. USAC expects to deploy the National Verifier in at least five states by December 31, 2017, and to fully deploy in all states and territories by the end of 2019.
 
Visit our website to view recordings of the National Verifier Update webinars presented in early November 2016:

 

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