Board

National Lifeline Association Welcomes Ali Badran As New Board Member

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ali Badran, CEO of MoreAble, LLC and Aiobo.com, as the new member of the NaLA Board.

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ali Badran, CEO of MoreAble, LLC and Aiobo.com, as the new member of the NaLA Board.

Mr. Badran brings to the position 15 years of wireless and seven years of Lifeline experience. He represents a collaborative and forward-thinking base of distributors and marketers of the Lifeline program.

Mr. Badran will be working closely with ETCs, community-based organizations, and marketing platforms to improve the Lifeline customer experience. He has a progressive perspective in supporting the interest, integrity and best practices of our rapidly growing Lifeline agent base. It will be his responsibility to continue to build an infrastructure that will support the NaLA Certified Agents within the Lifeline ecosystem.

“As always, there is a great deal of work needed to bring together the largest member group within NaLA,” said David B. Dorwart, Chairman of National Lifeline Association.

The board believes that Ali’s experience and leadership will help strengthen the integrity of the Lifeline program and uphold NaLA’s mission to support the providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of Lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

Mr. Badran joins current NaLA Board Members: David B. Dorwart, Board Chairman of NaLA; William Curry, President at Life Wireless; Steve Klein, President at SafetyNet Wireless; David Avila, Associate Vice President at SafeLink Wireless; Kimberly Lehrman, President & Chief Marketing Officer at enTouch Wireless; and Nathan Stierwalt, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at PWG Network Solutions.

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Lee SchaferNational Lifeline Association Welcomes Ali Badran As New Board Member
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National Lifeline Association Chairman Issues Statement Regarding FCC Enforcement Action Against American Broadband

David B. Dorwart, Chairman of NaLA, issues a statement regarding the FCC allegations of Lifeline rule violations and Notice of Apparent Liability against American Broadband


The allegations of Lifeline rule violations, including agent fraud and carrier misconduct, included in today’s FCC Notice of Apparent Liability against American Broadband, if proven to be true require nothing short of our absolute condemnation. We understand that the FCC has a process which will allow American Broadband to defend itself against these very serious and disconcerting allegations.

In the meantime, NaLA and its stakeholder members will continue the good work they do every day in bringing the Lifeline program to eligible subscribers. NaLA and its wireless reseller carriers work hard every day to ensure that only eligible subscribers get Lifeline benefits and that only eligible subscribers retain them. Today’s news will serve as a reminder to all Lifeline stakeholders just how important it is to achieve and maintain compliance in every facet of the good work that we do in ensuring Lifeline eligible low-income Americans are able to access this benefit that ensures essential voice and broadband connectivity.

The official press release can be reviewed here.

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Jordan MajkszakNational Lifeline Association Chairman Issues Statement Regarding FCC Enforcement Action Against American Broadband
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National Lifeline Association Designates New Board Members

Kristina Valencia and Nathan Stierwalt to Help Ensure All Americans Have Access to Essential Communications Services

The National Lifeline Association announces today the appointment of two new board members for a three-year term beginning March 31st, 2017:  Immerge’s Senior Vice President, Kristina Valencia and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for PWG Network Solutions Nathan Stierwalt. Both Ms. Valencia and Mr. Stierwalt are replacing existing board members Jim Dry and Tom Armstrong who recently resigned.  The national organization supports Lifeline recipients, providers, and supporters through education, cooperation, and advocacy.

Both Ms. Valencia and Mr. Stierwalt will be the first board members to represent another group of NaLA members that are not ETCs.  This is a big deal since our Lifeline Industry is made up of much more than designated ETCs.  

Kristina Valencia NaLA Board Member

Kristina ValenciaSenior VP, Immerge

Ms. Valencia, a SVP at Immerge is the first board member to represent the member base of distributors, which is NaLA’s largest group of members and by far our largest potential member base to grow. Ms. Valencia is excited about this opportunity to meet other Distributors and begin gathering information about how she might be able to help give them a stronger voice in the industry.

Nathan Stierwalt NaLA Board Member

Nathan StierwaltChief Sales & Marketing Officer, PWG Network Solutions

Nathan Stierwalt, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for PWG Network Solutions, is our first board member to represent the carrier supply chain as well as phone suppliers.  Nathan, in his capacity, will be able to represent both member bases and provide helpful insight to the Board on what is needed and expected from this NaLA group.  

“Through their leadership, Kristina and Nathan have helped elevate the industry standard for quality of service through the Lifeline Program,” said David B. Dorwart, Chairman of National Lifeline Association. “We are delighted to have them join our board, where they can help us fulfill our vision of ensuring that ‘In America, every person should have access to essential communication services.’”

Kristina and Nathan join current board members David B. Dorwart- Chairman, ViaOne Services; David Skogen- Global Communications of America; Steve Klein- SafetyNet Wireless; William Curry- Life Wireless; and Kim Lehrman- Entouch Wireless.

About the National Lifeline Association:

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. It supports the four essential pieces of Lifeline: ETCs and providers, distributors, Lifeline supporters and participants, and government and regulatory bodies.

The federal Lifeline program was created by Congress in 1985 to ensure that all Americans have access to quality telephone service. The Lifeline program requires that potential subscribers take part in a federal assistance program such as Medicaid or Food Stamps, or earn no more than 135 percent of the federal poverty level, and may not receive service from more than one Lifeline carrier at the same time.

“We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program,” added Dorwart. “And we drive this vision by providing education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

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Jordan MajkszakNational Lifeline Association Designates New Board Members
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National Lifeline Association Appoints New Board Members

Life Wireless President and CEO William Curry and Kim Lehrman, President of enTouch Wireless to Help Ensure All Americans Have Access to Essential Communications Services

NaLA LogoKENNETT SQUARE March 14th, 2016 – The National Lifeline Association announces today the appointment of two new board members for a three-year term beginning June 2016: Life Wireless President William Curry and Kim Lehrman, President of enTouch Wireless. The national organization supports Lifeline recipients, providers, and supporters through education, cooperation, and advocacy.

“Through their leadership, William and Kim have helped elevate the industry standard for quality of service through the Lifeline Program,” said David B. Dorwart, Chairman of National Lifeline Association. “We are delighted to have them join our board, where they can help us fulfill our vision of ensuring that ‘In America, every person should have access to essential communication services.’”

William and Kim join current board members David B. Dorwart-Chairman, Assist Wireless; David Skogen- Global Communications of America; Steve Klein- SafetyNet Wireless; Jim Dry- New Phone Wireless; and Tom Armstrong-LTS of Rocky Mount.

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. It supports the four essential pieces of Lifeline: ETCs and providers, distributors, Lifeline supporters and participants, and government and regulatory bodies.

The federal Lifeline program was created by Congress in 1985 to ensure that all Americans have access to quality telephone service. The Lifeline program requires that potential subscribers take part in a federal assistance program such as Medicaid or Food Stamps, or earn no more than 135 percent of the federal poverty level, and may not receive service from more than one Lifeline carrier at the same time.

“We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program,” added Dorwart. “And we drive this vision by providing education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

About The National Lifeline Association:

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential pieces of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Supporters & Participants, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program and we drive this vision by providing education, cooperation, and advocacy.

For more information please contact: Jordan Majkszak, Marketing & PR Director – National Lifeline Association. (484) 734-0080 or [email protected]

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Jordan MajkszakNational Lifeline Association Appoints New Board Members
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2016 NaLA Conference Tickets Now Available!

Tickets for the 2016 NaLA Spring Conference are now available!

Remember, early registration discounts end on March 14th! Full price tickets begin on March 15th. Late registration fees apply for any tickets purchased on or after April 15th.

  • March 15th, 2016 – Regular Registration Prices Begin
  • April 15th, 2016 – Late Registration Prices Begin

SAVE $100 AND REGISTER TODAY!

BUY CONFERENCE TICKET
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Jordan Majkszak2016 NaLA Conference Tickets Now Available!
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2016 NaLA Spring Conference Sponsorships

Conference sponsorships are selling out quickly, be sure to complete your sponsorship forms and send them to [email protected] ASAP to secure your sponsorship and exhibition opportunity! We thank those of you that have supported this event and we are looking forward to a great conference this year!

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Jordan Majkszak2016 NaLA Spring Conference Sponsorships
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2016 NaLA Conference Update

New Orleans - Burbon St.

Hello NaLA Members!

Welcome to 2016, a new year for everyone and a particular new year for NaLA. The White House is up for grabs, new legislation is around the corner, and advances in technology create meaningful impacts on our margins – we will have plenty to talk about at this year’s conference!

Our event team is in full gear making sure the 2016 conference is the biggest and best ever.

Here is important information about this year’s event:

2016 NaLA Spring Conference 

May 17th-19th – New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Marriott
555 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

We are opening sponsorship opportunities and registration much earlier this year to allow ample planning for attendees, vendors, exhibitors, and also our speakers & event staff.

Here are some important dates to remember:

  • Jan 10th – Feb 10th 2016 – Sponsorship Opportunities Open Up
  • February 15th, 2016 – Hotel Registration & Discounted Early Ticket Sales Begin
  • March 1st, 2016 – Speaking & Volunteer Opportunities Open Up
  • March 15th, 2016 – Regular Registration Prices Begin
  • April 15th, 2016 – Late Registration Prices Begin
  • May 17th, 2016 – Conference Begins with Opening Party!

With such positive feedback from our members on last year’s conference format, we are going to repeat this format with plenty of poignant “NaLA talks” and interactive break-out forums. An overview of the event schedule can be found HERE.

I would not be doing my job if I did not remind you that NaLA is a non-profit organization; the success of our efforts are reliant on the contributions of your donations.  Because of this, we ask that everyone contribute to that extent they can; donate what you can, when you can, as often as you can.  Each and every donation helps the Lifeline community of which makes up NaLA, our members, and lifeline recipients everywhere.

Thanks all and we look forward to hosting everyone in New Orleans! Keep checking our website for updated information!

Sincerely,

David Dorwart - Chairman, National Lifeline Association

David Dorwart
Chairman, National Lifeline Association

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Jordan Majkszak2016 NaLA Conference Update
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Business Misconceptions and the NPRM

By: Dave Skogen, NaLA Board Member

FCC Broadband InitiativeEvery American should have access to essential communication services, and in today’s world, that includes Broadband service. The Lifeline framework can, and should, be a critical tool to help make that idea a reality. In its recently released Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order of Reconsideration, Second Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order (“NPRM”), the FCC makes it clear that they understand that and I applaud them for it.

The NPRM is sure to initiate significant commentary, and those of us in the Lifeline community must play a central role in that debate. While Regulatory and policy arguments will be forthcoming, it is important for all of us in the industry to help educate decision makers on what I see as misconceptions from a business perspective. Incorrect assumptions on business issues pose a serious threat to sound policy making and effectively moving the program forward in a way that is optimal for the American public.

In my view, the primary areas where there is seemingly a break from perception and reality – from a business perspective – are (a) the current $9.25 reimbursement can and should be funding consumer offers beyond those currently in the market (b) shifting consumer eligibility away from Lifeline providers would remove a significant financial burden from them and (c) the lack of greater competition is largely due to the existing ETC framework.

MINIMUM SERVICE STANDARDS FOR VOICE

In the NPRM, the FCC suggests that the current structure may not “extract” enough value for the fund and consumers. To support this, the Commission points out that the common industry offer of 250 minutes per month has gone largely unchanged in three years. It also notes that non Lifeline services have seen reduced prices in that period, and that consumers may have to pay out of pocket for services at a new minimum standard.

There are several things the Commission may not fully understand regarding the existing model (again, from a business perspective).

  • The commission argues that the offer has gone stagnant during this time, but does not mention that the 250 minute offer was developed prior to the elimination of Link Up. That alone is a $30 “extraction” from providers.
  • While the commission points out that wholesale telco prices may have been reduced during the period, it ignores other significant and real costs of providing services. There has been no reduction in phone costs and, as penetration rates have increased, distribution costs have also gone up. While these may not be considered “supported services”, from a practical perspective that is not relevant as the financial model does not change due to such distinctions.

The evidence that the offer is not unduly enriching providers is evidenced by the FCC’s own statements. They point out that there are several providers yet the general offer has not changed. If the flexibility on the offer was not limited due to financial reasons tied to the $9.25 reimbursement rate, we would naturally see competitors differentiating themselves through enhanced offers. Simply forcing higher minimum standards upon providers will not lead to improvements for consumers, but will simply force providers abandon customer outreach, reducing options for consumers.

ELIGIBILITY DETERMINATION AND IT’S ASSOCIATED COST FOR PROVIDERS

The debate on where eligibility determination should lie is beyond the scope of this piece. Here, the discussion is limited to the FCC’s perception on the costs associated with that function. This is relevant because an overestimation of costs may (a) justify the FCC spending an unreasonable amount to support the function, (b) overcharge carriers, ultimately harming consumers and (c) inaccurately influence the decision making process.

Currently, the eligibility determination is done during the enrollment process. It is but one of the several steps a carrier and consumer must go through at that time. Other items include describing the program and offering, going over the large number of disclosures, covering Terms and Conditions, instructing the consumer on use of the product, etc. Eligibility determination takes a small percentage of that time. Adding a third party to the process only lengthens it, especially if it cannot be done in real time, as the Commission suggests. On top of that, the third party must be compensated. In short, while other merits of the proposal may be debated, this change would ADD costs for the provider and the overall Lifeline ecosystem, not reduce them.

COMPETITION AND THE CURRENT ETC FRAMEWORK

The NPRM discusses potential changes to the ETC designation process and a potential alternative with the goal of encouraging more competition. The possible merits and issues with those approaches are beyond the scope of this paper. However, it is worth noting that the existing framework could provide much greater competition if the FCC simply executed within it. Dozens of Compliance Plans and Federal ETCs (created at no small expense by carriers) have gone simply unaddressed for literally years. If increased competition is truly desired, an immediate way to address that seems obvious.

All of these issues matter, because – again – sound policy making must be built on a reasonable understanding of market realities. Where that is not the case, it is incumbent on all of us to educate those influencing policy.

The opinions expressed above are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of NaLA or its members.

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Jordan MajkszakBusiness Misconceptions and the NPRM
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