LI Program News - August 22, 2017

USAC | LI Program News

                                                                                                                                             August 22, 2017

New Standard for FCC Form 497 Begins with August Filing

Effective with the August data month (September 1 snapshot), reimbursement claims for the Lifeline Program cannot exceed a service provider's subscriber count in NLAD. FCC Forms 497 will be rejected if the number of subscribers claimed for reimbursement is greater than the subscriber count in NLAD on the snapshot date. If the form is rejected, payment may be delayed.


For revisions, service providers can add or remove claims for subscribers; however, their claims may never exceed the NLAD subscriber count as of the snapshot date.


USAC recommends comparing your FCC Form 497 to the NLAD subscriber snapshot before submission and keeping NLAD up-to-date (as required by the rules). 


Minimum Service Standards Increase on December 1

The 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order established minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported services that increase each year.


Effective December 1, 2017, the updated minimum service standards are:

  • Mobile broadband (data): 1 GB/month of 3G mobile technology
  • Mobile voice: 750 minutes per month
  • Fixed (home) broadband: 15/2 Mbps
    • There is an exception if the service provider does not offer any generally available residential fixed broadband packages at the subscriber's residence that meet this standard (in this case, the service provider can receive support for the highest-performing fixed broadband residential offering of at least 4 Mbps/1Mbps)
  • Fixed (home) broadband: 250 GB of usage per month
  • Fixed (home) voice: No minimum service standard






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

Service providers must meet the minimum service standard for the service the Lifeline support is applied to. If the consumer is receiving a bundled service, service providers are advised to apply the Lifeline support to one of the services in the bundle (only the service the Lifeline support is applied to must meet the minimum standard).


In cases where a Lifeline-supported service will no longer meet the standard in December, USAC requires notifying affected customers at least one month in advance. The notification should inform the customer that their service no longer qualifies for Lifeline, and offer the option to (1) switch to a Lifeline-supported plan with their current provider or with a new provider, or (2) be de-enrolled from Lifeline and pay $XX for their current plan (if their current plan is still being offered by their carrier).

If the service provider provides better service in order to meet the minimum service standard without an additional charge to the customer, any port freeze would remain in place. 

If an ETC increases the cost to the consumer or reduces a service, the consumer would no longer be subjected to the port freeze, as their plan has materially changed.


More information about the minimum service standards is available in the FCC's Public Notice DA 17-619 and in the recording of the August 9 Lifeline Program Webinar.


Vermont Is Joining NLAD

On August 1, the FCC granted Vermont's request to participate in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) and gave service providers in the state a deadline of November 1, 2017, to migrate their subscriber records into NLAD.


USAC is partnering with the Vermont Department of Public Service to support Vermont Lifeline service providers during the migration process. Contact with questions about the Vermont NLAD migration.


Universal Federal Forms Coming to Lifeline

When the National Verifier launches in a state, all service providers in that state will be required to use a USAC-provided version of the consumer-facing Lifeline Program forms: the certification (application) form, the one-per-household worksheet, and the recertification form.


National Verifier: August Announcements

USAC is planning to release details about the National Verifier this month including:

  • Initial States: USAC will announce the initial states to join the National Verifier by August 31.
  • Technology specifications
  • Training plan: USAC will offer training opportunities to stakeholders in the initial states. The schedule will be announced in August with the majority of training occurring in October and early November.

On July 26, USAC announced news about the National Verifier including how service providers will interact with the National Verifier, the migration process for service providers in the initial states, and more. We will announce the initial states, technology specifications, and training plan via a special edition newsletter by August 31.


FCC Form 497 will be Retired After the December 2017 Data Month 

The process for submitting Lifeline reimbursement claims is changing, effective with the January 2018 data month (filed beginning in February). This change affects all Lifeline service providers in all states and territories and is not coupled with the rollout of the National Verifier.


After the December 2017 data month, FCC Form 497 will be retired; however, any new claims or revisions to old claims for the December 2017 data month and prior should still be completed via the old FCC Form 497 process. 


Starting with the January 2018 data month (February filing period), the E-File system will use the NLAD subscriber snapshot as the default basis for determining support payments to service providers. In the new process, service providers will download a list of eligible subscribers in E-File, add dollar amounts for claimed subscribers, add reason codes for unclaimed subscribers, and upload the report to E-File to certify and submit.


A detailed walkthrough of the new process was presented in the August 9 Lifeline Program Update Webinar. More information about this process will be available on our website on the Receive Payment page.


To prepare for the process change, USAC recommends confirming your company's FCC Form 497 filer and certifying company officer have E-File accounts and reviewing your company's process for keeping subscriber counts in NLAD up-to-date.


Forbearance of Lifeline Voice Obligations in Certain Counties

On July 17, the FCC announced counties that are eligible for forbearance of the obligation to offer and advertise Lifeline-supported voice service in Public Notice DA 17-684.  Service providers are eligible for forbearance in these counties if they are designated to receive both High Cost Program and Lifeline Program support.  Service providers that receive high-cost support in a forbearance county are only eligible for forbearance relief in the areas of the county where they do not receive high-cost support.


View the list of eligible counties in Appendix A of the Public Notice.

Webinar on September 12: Technology Forum 

Join us on Tuesday, September 12 for our monthly Technology Forum (rescheduled from August 22). In this webinar, IT staff will discuss the National Verifier technology specifications. 

Webinar on September 13: Lifeline Program Update 

Join us on Wednesday, September 13 for our monthly Lifeline Program webinar. You can always access the webinar slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Trainings and Outreach page. 


Lifeline Program


August 2017

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