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March 2020 Newsletter

March 31, 2020

Lifeline Operations: Updates Regarding COVID-19   

In an additional response to the pandemic and to further reduce the burden on Lifeline stakeholders, the FCC has extended temporary changes to our program. 

On Monday, March 30, the FCC released an order that waives several rules that could otherwise result in de-enrollment of subscribers from the Lifeline program. It also extended the recent waiver of recertification and reverification requirements to May 29, 2020. This is to ensure all waiver periods for the Lifeline de-enrollment rules will have the same duration. 

No additional changes were made to the implementation of the Representative Accountability Database (RAD). 

Involuntary de-enrollment of existing subscribers are paused until May 29, 2020.  

This includes the suspension of any rules which require Lifeline providers to de-enroll any Lifeline subscriber for whom the provider has a reasonable basis to believe is no longer eligible for the program. The FCC has directed ETCs and USAC to refrain from sending any new 30-day notices of de-enrollment to subscribers until after the waiver period ends. 

This waiver also prevents the involuntary de-enrollment of any Lifeline subscriber who would otherwise be de-enrolled for non-usage. ETCs should restart the calculation of non-usage periods after the end of the waiver period. No Lifeline subscriber may be de-enrolled for non-usage until 45 days after the waiver period ends. 

Program Integrity Efforts Suspended

Consistent with pausing all involuntary de-enrollments during this period, USAC program integrity reviews are paused as well. From Now until May, 29, 2020
  • There will be no new Lifeline Program Integrity reviews announced. 
  • If you are currently working with USAC to complete Lifeline Program Integrity efforts, these efforts are suspended until the waiver period ends.   
  • The Lifeline Program Integrity team will contact your company regarding any open requests and will provide new due dates. 
Beginning Monday, June 1, 2020, USAC will restart Lifeline Program Integrity efforts.

Recertification 

Recertification is now on hold for the anniversary dates between April 14, 2020 and August 27, 2020. 

Subscribers with these anniversary dates will receive a new notice from USAC to recertify their continued eligibility after the waiver period ends on May 29, 2020. 

Reverification

All reverification activity is on hold through May 29, 2020. 

USAC will not conduct any de-enrollments for subscribers with documentation deadlines falling on or before May 29, 2020. Any impacted subscribers will receive a new opportunity to provide any necessary eligibility documentation after the end of the waiver period.

USAC will not open any new reverification documentation requests from subscribers or ETCs until after May 29, 2020.  However, existing deadlines for ETCs to submit on hand documents for states in Launch 7 are still in effect.

The Lifeline Support Center 

The Lifeline Support Team continues to operate and provide all its usual functions. We will communicate with you as soon as possible if anything affects our operations. 

Consumers may continue to contact the Lifeline Support Center by phone or at LifelineSupport@usac.org

Service providers should continue to direct their inquiries to LifelineProgram@usac.org

Prepare Now – Register and Link Representatives by May 25

The FCC recently waived for 60 days the requirement that all enrollment representatives register with USAC before processing transactions in USAC’s Lifeline systems. This waiver period expires on May 25th. Service providers must complete their registration and account linking work by May 25.

If you do not register in time, the National Verifier portal and NLAD systems will not accept transactions (such as updates and enrollments) from representatives without a Representative ID linked to the service provider’s account.    

USAC encourages enrollment representatives to continue to register for a Representative ID and service providers to continue linking Representative IDs to NLAD subaccounts, API accounts, and SPINs as batch users.

A Representative ID must be linked to the account of any enrollment representative who performs eligibility checks in the National Verifier portal or applicable NLAD website transactions (such as updates and enrollments). Additionally, transactions submitted via API and batch must include the two new RAD fields and those fields must be populated correctly as described in the NLAD API Specifications and Field Names and Descriptions guide.

For an overview of the upcoming changes and to answer any questions you may have about RAD, join us for the RAD Office Hours recently rescheduled to April 23 from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET

Office hours are a time for a short review of previous training sessions and then a deep dive into provider questions. The majority of office hours are devoted to answering your questions.

RAD Linking and Other Resources 
Service providers may review slide decks from previous RAD training sessions, linking guides, a general RAD fact sheet, and a short video series about RAD on the RAD Resources page. 

FCC and USAC Warn Lifeline Stakeholders of COVID-19 Scams 

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we have received reports of scams which include hoax text message campaigns and robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears. Some scam calls have targeted Lifeline consumers, threatening them with the loss of their benefit.

Be vigilant about calls and texts from unknown numbers. Please urge your consumers to never share personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.

Messages from USAC about the Lifeline Program will always come from a “usac.org” email address or the Lifeline Support Center and include USAC’s logo.

For more information about these scams and safety tips from the FCC, visit the FCC’s website.

NLAD Address Update Workflow Release Postponed

USAC is postponing the new NLAD Address Update Workflow until a later time.

USAC will share more information as we get closer to the date. In the meantime, download the March monthly webinar to see the new process flow.

Reminder: Check ‘Service Type’ in NLAD before Snapshot Date

Service providers must keep the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) up to date, including changes to a subscriber’s Lifeline service. Service providers should confirm that the service type for each of their Lifeline subscribers is marked correctly in NLAD before the snapshot on the first of the month. Doing this will ensure that service providers can claim reimbursement for the appropriate subscriber rate.

For more information, including a breakdown of Lifeline service types and their definitions, visit the Eligible Services page of USAC’s website.

Tribal Flag 

A service provider cannot be reimbursed for the enhanced support amount unless the "Tribal flag" is selected in NLAD. Service providers must ensure that the Tribal flag is selected for their subscribers living on federally recognized Tribal lands.

Required Survey on Huawei and/or ZTE Equipment

Ensuring the security and integrity of the Universal Service Fund (USF) programs is a priority for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). On January 3, 2020, the FCC’s Supply Chain Order, which adopted rules to safeguard the security and integrity of the nation’s communications networks, became effective.

The Order adopts a new rule that no universal service support may be used to purchase, obtain, maintain, improve, modify, or otherwise support any equipment or services produced or provided by companies that pose a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain. The FCC initially designated Huawei Technologies Company and ZTE Corporation as companies covered by this Order. The FCC will determine whether to make these initial designations final and USAC will communicate any changes.    

Recipients of USF program funds cannot use universal service funds to pay for equipment and services from companies finally designated as covered companies. 

The Order requires all USF program ETCs to complete a survey identifying whether their networks, or the networks of their affiliates or subsidiaries, contain equipment or services from Huawei and/or ZTE. All ETCs must complete the survey by April 22, 2020. Other USF program participants can complete the survey on a voluntary basis.  

USAC will share additional information about this Order as it is available.

Enhancements to Consumer Website, Lifelinesupport.org

Lifeline Support is USAC’s website for Lifeline consumers and their advocates. 

USAC has recently updated the Lifeline Program consumer material to ensure eligible consumers have the information they need to successfully navigate the program.  

The goal is to present the information consumers need upfront in a clear, concise way.  We appreciate the many stakeholders that have provided input and feedback and are eager to share this updated content.

Application Availability

Consumers looking to apply or log in to their online portal can now access it from the consumer website. 

An “Apply Now” button has been added to the top of the website so that consumers are taken directly to the National Verifier online portal. 

Consumers looking for paper applications can download them on the How to Apply page. 

Consumer Education Materials

Educational materials for consumers are now available on the Community Outreach page:

April Monthly Webinar: NLAD 101

Join us on Wednesday, April 8 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) and provide a basic overview of how to use.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states, territories, and the District of Columbia. You can access the recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

Need Help? Contact Us!
For questions about the Lifeline Program, call (800) 234-9473 or email LifelineProgram@usac.org.

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