– Changes to Lifeline, Link Up, and TLS will take effect April 2, 2012
On February 6, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission released its Lifeline Reform Order (FCC 12-11
) that makes significant changes to the federal Low Income Program. The changes summarized below will go into effect April 2, 2012. A new version of FCC Form 497 will be posted on USAC's website after OMB approval as part of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The FCC published the PRA notice in the Federal Register on March 6, 2012 and noted that emergency approval of the Form 497 has been sought. The FCC Form 497 is expected to be approved by mid-April and carriers will be able to use it to submit for reimbursement for April subscribers, which are submitted in May 2012.
Beginning April 2, 2012, Eligible Telecommunications Carriers' (ETCs) federal Lifeline support will equal $9.25 per month for each eligible, Non-Tribal Lifeline subscriber pursuant to 47 C.F.R. 54.403 of the Commission's new rules. March 2012 will be the last month ETCs may claim federal support under the old Tiers 1 - 3. ETCs may claim up to an additional $25.00 for each eligible resident of Tribal lands (including any federally recognized Indian tribe's reservation, pueblo, or colony including former reservations in Oklahoma; Alaska Native Regions; Indian Allotments; or Hawaiian Home Lands) as long as the amount claimed on FCC Form 497 is not greater than the amount billed to the customer.
Beginning April 2, 2012, Link Up support is no longer available for Non-Tribal Lifeline customers. March 2012 is the last month for which ETCs serving customers on non-Tribal lands can claim Link Up support on their FCC Form 497. For example, if an ETC serving non-Tribal lands currently receives Link Up support and enrolls a new subscriber on March 15, 2012, that ETC may claim Link Up support for that subscriber. If, however, that ETC enrolls a new subscriber on April 2, 2012, that ETC may not claim Link Up support for that subscriber. ETCs that receive High Cost support may claim Tribal Link Up support to cover 100 percent of customary charge for commencing telecommunications service, up to $100, for eligible residents of Tribal lands.
Beginning April 2, 2012, Toll Limitation Service (TLS) support is capped at the lesser of $3.00 per subscriber or an ETC's incremental cost of providing the service per subscriber. March 2012 will be the last month ETC's may claim support for TLS reimbursement at rates higher than $3.00 per subscriber on FCC Form 497.