LI Program News - 2nd Quarter 2016


June 2016

Program Happenings

2016 Lifeline Modernization Order

On April 27, 2016, the FCC released the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. This Order includes a number of enhancements to the Lifeline Program that will help many Americans get and stay connected. The Order also mandates several program changes aimed at easing carriers' administrative and financial burdens, while establishing additional preventative measures to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.  

Broadband, Minimum Service Standard Requirements, and New Support Levels
Beginning December 1, 2016 (or 60 days after Paperwork Reduction Act approval, whichever date is later), Lifeline subscribers will be able to use their subsidy towards broadband internet services. The inclusion of broadband will provide increased access to employment opportunities, healthcare information, and educational resources. 
Minimum Service Standards Requirement
The new Order outlines minimum service standards that you - carriers - must meet when providing Lifeline Program Service.
Broadband Internet - Starting December 1, 2016, you must offer a minimum of 500 MB per month for mobile broadband data. Fixed broadband speed minimums will begin with a requirement of 150 GB per month at 10/1 Mbps.  
Voice - Starting December 1, 2016, you must offer a minimum of 500 voice minutes to subscribers using mobile voice services. 
Support Level Phasedown
As of December 1, 2016 (or after PRA approval), subscribers can apply their full support amount ($9.25) towards mobile, fixed broadband, or bundled packages. For the next three years, subscribers can continue to receive mobile or fixed voice-only services at the full support amount, too. Though on December 1, 2019, support for voice-only services will begin to gradually decrease.
For a full outline of the new minimum service standards and a schedule of the support level phasedown, please visit the Broadband and Minimum Service Standards section.
Program Eligibility Streamlining
Streamlining eligibility for the Lifeline Program will improve the effectiveness of the program and the overall experience for both you and your customers. Beginning December 1, 2016 (or after PRA approval), individuals can only qualify* for a Lifeline benefit by participating in one of the following assistance programs:
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Income-based eligibility (subscribers at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines)
  • Veteran's Pension & Survivor's Pension benefit
* There are no changes to the eligibility criteria for residents of Tribal lands who participate in a federal or state assistance program.
National Verifier
In an effort to ease the administrative burden to carriers and also to promote subscriber choice, the FCC has directed USAC to create a National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier), a system that will determine subscriber eligibility. We will continue to keep you apprised of any developments as this project progresses. 
Additional Changes
The Order highlights some additional changes to the program, such as changing how recertification is done and updates to the non-usage rule. Visit the Additional Changes section for more information about these items. 
Please check the 2015 & 2016 Lifeline Orders page frequently for updates about the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, and look for more information in future newsletters. The Lifeline Team is here to assist you through the implementation of this Order, so feel free to contact us with your questions or concerns at any time. 


2015 Lifeline Order

With the release of the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, it might be easy to forget about implanting and complying with changes mandated by the 2015 Lifeline Reform Order. So we've compiled this list of reminders of deadlines approaching that you'll want to prepare for:
Oklahoma Tribal Boundaries - June 8, 2016
The new boundaries in Oklahoma to determine enhanced Tribal support become effective on June 8, 2016. For more information, see the Oklahoma Tribal Boundaries section. 
Resale of Lifeline - August 15, 2016
Effective August 15, 2016, carriers can only receive reimbursement in instances where they provide Lifeline Program service directly to subscribers, and ILECs will no longer be obligated to resell Lifeline Program services. For more information, see the Resale of Lifeline section.
Snapshot Date - September 1, 2016
September 1, 2016, is when you must begin using the new snapshot date method. This means that you will need to submit your August FCC Form 497 data as captured on September 1, 2016. For more information, see the Snapshot Date section.  For questions regarding the Snapshot Date, please contact us.
Already in Effect: Document Retention 
You should already be retaining subscriber eligibility documentation, as well as documentation for NLAD dispute resolution processes. For more information, see the Document Retention section. 
Please check the 2015 & 2016 Lifeline Orders page for more detailed information. 

Submit FCC Form 497 Online Using E-File

We encourage you to file your FCC Form 497 via E-File. You can use the online filing instructions for guidance, or contact the 497 Support Team for additional assistance. 

FCC Form 481 Due July 1, 2016

The FCC Form 481 (Carrier Annual Reporting Data Collection Form) is due Friday, July 1, 2016. All carriers participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs (except for participants who only receive Phase I Mobility Fund support) must file this form, online. Please refer to the online filing instructions for guidance, or watch one of our training videos


Lifeline Program


June 2016

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