All posts tagged: ETCs

TracFone Opposes FCC Lifeline Program Changes

February 20, 2018 — A letter filed by TracFone opposes FCC Lifeline Program changes. The Notice on Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), an initiative from the FCC’s November 2017 Open Meeting, included various Lifeline Program initiatives, such as eliminating wireless resellers from providing Lifeline service. More recently, the FCC has postponed the launch of the program’s National Verifier, an initiative that is in line with the stated goals of the commission, seeking to strengthen the Lifeline Program and reduce potential waste, fraud, and abuse.

Letter from TracFone Opposes FCC Lifeline Program Changes

In the letter, TracFone applauds the commission’s efforts to strengthen the Lifeline Program, but warns of the consequences of eliminating wireless resellers from the Lifeline Program, as this would negatively affect the consumers that the program seeks to help. The letter from TracFone opposes FCC Lifeline Program changes, asserting that “proposing to exclude all non-facilities-based Lifeline providers (the “Facilities-Based Proposal”) from the program and reorienting its mission from one that addresses affordability to one that encourages infrastructure deployment, the Commission has chosen a blunt instrument that would deny more than 8 million households their preferred Lifeline services without meaningfully reducing the opportunities for waste and fraud. Indeed, in proposing to do away with consumer choice and competition brought about by resellers, the NPRM fails to make the case for how the remaining facilities-based monopolies resulting from such regulatory intervention will spur rural network buildout or otherwise benefit Lifeline customers, particularly since many facilities-based providers have reduced their Lifeline participation or sought to leave the program altogether in recent months.”

Read TracFone’s Letter to FCC

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Comments-of-TracFone-Wireless-.pdf”]

Postponing of Lifeline Eligibility Verifier

In addition to concerns on the elimination of wireless resellers, TracFone also asserted that the update to the National Verifier Plan includes processes that are unnecessarily inefficient, burdensome, and contradictory to the Federal Communications Commission’s stated goals for the National Verifier. The recent postponing of the National Verifier launch is creating concern that the FCC’s actions do not support it’s stated goals about strengthening the Lifeline Program eligibility verification processes. TracFone, Sprint, and other Telecommunication companies are in agreement that efforts are best focused on the National Verifier, prior to making any drastic changes to the program, which helps nearly 11 million low-income Americans access phone and internet services.

TracFone commented that the FCC’s proposal “…departs greatly from the light-touch regulatory approach favored by the current Administration, and represents a sweeping, unprecedented, and possibly illegal governmental intrusion into an otherwise healthy and competitive marketplace that lacks signs of widespread market failure. The Commission must reject its proposal that singles out resellers for their collective status, not for their individual behaviors, and that, if implemented, will forever undermine the utility of the Lifeline program for more than two out of every three existing Lifeline subscribers and render it inaccessible or impractical for still millions more.”

About the National Lifeline Association (NaLA)

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential components 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 through our mission to “support providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

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Lee SchaferTracFone Opposes FCC Lifeline Program Changes
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Lifeline Advocates Urge FCC to Reconsider Proposed Program Changes

On October 26th, the FCC published the upcoming November 16 public meeting agenda, which calls for some significant changes to the Lifeline Program, which provides affordable communication services to low-income Americans.  Advocates of the Lifeline Program are now voicing their concerns about some of the proposed rules, which will mainly aim to:

  • Direct Lifeline Funds & Enhanced Lifeline Support to Facilities-based Providers
  • Adopt a Self-enforcing Budget Cap
  • End States’ Role in Designating ETCs
  • Redefine Tribal Lands as Rural
  • Eliminate LBP Designations

Responses to FCC Proposals for Lifeline Program

Advocates of both the Lifeline Program and the FCC’s commitment to “bridge the digital divide” have expressed concern over many of the potential changes, and are seeking FCC reconsideration.

CTIA, an organization that represents the U.S. wireless communications industry (and the companies throughout the mobile ecosystem) that enable Americans to lead a 21st century connected life, voiced some of their concerns in a letter to Chairman Pai, yesterday:

“While CTIA remains committed to working with the Commission to strengthen the Lifeline program’s administration, some of the changes proposed in the draft Lifeline item would negatively impact millions of low-income consumers who rely on wireless supported Lifeline services. As the Commission moves forward an agenda designed to close the digital divide, CTIA urges the Commission to recognize that Lifeline, especially wireless Lifeline, remains a critical tool that enables low-income consumers to access 21st Century occupational, educational, health and public safety communications.”

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/CTIA-Lifeline-FCC-NPRM-NOI-Response-Letter-11082017.pdf”]

 

Additionally, NaLA has activated a task force of highly qualified industry experts and advocates, who are working hard to ensure the continuity of the Lifeline Program. This task force is charged with handling the outreach, communication, collaboration, and education required to inform lawmakers and constituents aware of the proposed changes and what they can do to support the program and protect the Lifeline Program participants.

NaLA Member and Lifeline Advocate Support

Our members and supporters have already begun efforts to protect the low-income Americans who participate in the Lifeline Program. Access to telecommunications services provided by this program connect low-income Americans with emergency services, employment, education, childcare, and healthcare.

NaLA appreciates its members contributions to this cause; donate now to assure the continuation of the Lifeline Program or read more on the FCC’s proposed changes.

About CTIA

CTIA vigorously advocates at all levels of government for policies that foster continued wireless innovation and investment. CTIA also coordinates the industry’s voluntary efforts to provide consumers with a variety of choices and information regarding their wireless products and services. CTIA also hosts educational events that promote the wireless industry and coordinates the industry’s efforts to provide consumers with a variety of choices and information regarding their wireless products and services as well as the industry’s voluntary best practices.

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Lee SchaferLifeline Advocates Urge FCC to Reconsider Proposed Program Changes
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Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) Designation, Minimum Service Standards

On September 30, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-118) that offers additional guidance from the Wireline Competition Bureau to entities seeking Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) designations for the Lifeline program. Included in the notice are minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS), and guidelines that will be applicable to LBPs and eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) seeking Lifeline reimbursement.

Read the PDF of the FCC Notice (DA 16-118) on LBP Minimum Service Standards:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/DA-16-1118A1.pdf”]


Source: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0930/DA-16-1118A1.pdf

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Lee SchaferLifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) Designation, Minimum Service Standards
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