All posts tagged: NaLA

How the Lifeline Program Helps Sarah Victory Continue Her Journey in Being a Super Mom

“I am thankful enough to have an affordable phone service,”  44- year-old Sarah Victory from Coweta, Oklahoma says in a relieving tone. Sarah works from 3 pm to 11 pm as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She also takes care of her three children (one is her 3-year old autistic son)  and is the emotional support for her husband, who suffers from depression. Sarah happily says that at her workplace the patients label her “the best one” and it’s most likely due to her dedication at work and home. Being a family woman and the go-to-person can be overwhelming, but Sarah says that it’s her job as a mother and wife. Her day-to-day routine varies, but the one thing that is consistent is her consumer relationship with the Lifeline program.

With so many responsibilities, bills, and other family financial commitments, Sarah is happy that the Lifeline program is effective and efficient. Being enrolled in the Lifeline program has allowed Sarah to connect with her children, husband, and doctors. “Because I can’t afford normal service, being in the Lifeline program allows me to talk to my doctor and my child’s doctor,” she says. The convenience and affordability of her Lifeline phone service not only makes her life easy even when everything else is hectic, but it allows her to stay connected with the important aspects of her life. Because she has to keep a closer eye on her son’s health, being able to contact his doctor is important. If it were not for the Lifeline Program how else would Sarah keep up with her autistic son’s health? As a busy mother, wife, and employee, the victory is more than her last name; it’s in her Lifeline phone service.

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NaLA Supports National Lifeline Awareness Week With Informational and Social Media Campaigns

NaLA Supports National Lifeline Awareness Week With Informational and Social Media Campaigns

Many eligible households who are not enrolled in the Lifeline program struggle to afford essential telephone service that allows them to reach emergency services, medical personnel, government services, schools, and potential employers. In fact, only 33% of those who are eligible for the Lifeline program are currently enrolled. Additionally, 46% of active Lifeline consumers are retired, disabled or unable to work, and rely on Lifeline for phone and broadband services every day. By raising awareness of the Lifeline program, NaLA seeks to educate those who may have been unaware of the availability of Lifeline and encourage those who are eligible to participate to enroll.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative to highlight the effect of Lifeline on the lives of low-income Americans. In 2017, the FCC proposed devastating changes to the Lifeline program which would significantly cut access to essential phone and broadband services for an estimated 8 million people, which is roughly 70% of Lifeline recipients currently enrolled in the program. The potential cutback of this program would have a profoundly negative impact not only on eligible seniors, the disabled and low-income consumers, but also the 28% of Lifeline consumers who are unemployed and actively looking for work.

“There is much work to be done when an estimated 67% of eligible consumers are not taking advantage of the Lifeline Program.”

“National Lifeline Awareness Week is important to NaLA because, at our core, we believe that every American should have access to essential communication services. There is much work to be done when an estimated 67% of eligible consumers are not taking advantage of the Lifeline Program,” says David B. Dorwart, Chairman of NaLA. “We are also excited to share the personal story of a current Lifeline consumer who expressed how profoundly Lifeline impacts her life. It is important for people to understand how the proposed FCC program changes could negatively impact vulnerable individuals,” he adds.

Because Lifeline affects millions of consumers every day, our service provider members and field agent members have partnered with us to generate informational and awareness campaigns in support of National Lifeline Awareness Week all across the country. Along with its service provider members, field agent members, and other advocates, NaLA continues to pursue changes that result in greater efficiency, accountability, and overall integrity in the Lifeline program. NaLA thoroughly believes in the importance of National Lifeline Awareness Week and applauds the organizations and regulatory bodies that support Lifeline and raise awareness during this week.

Read the original press release here.

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National Lifeline Association Comments In Support of Q Link’s Emergency Petition for API Interfaces

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) commented on Q Link’s emergency petition for an order directing the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to provide API Interfaces for the National Verifier.

Q Link defends the need for APIs because they are critical for the Lifeline consumer enrollment process. The use of APIs would make the application process for consumers much easier. A Q Link statement explains, “Without APIs, there would be no way for a consumer to benefit from carrier assistance when navigating the eligibility verification process online, or to complete both eligibility verification and service enrollment as part of a continuous online transaction.” Q Link also asserts that the APIs would decrease the USAC/NV’s administrative costs. “Restoring APIs to permit machine-to-machine information transfers between ETCs and the National Verifier will cut USAC’s costs to deploy and operate the National Verifier, and thus reduce the burden on ratepayers and the USF,” they state.

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) comments on Q Link’s emergency petition

NaLA filed comments agreeing with Q Link’s emergency petition. NaLA agrees that the National Verifier without APIs would have a very negative impact on Lifeline consumers and Lifeline service business models.

NaLA understands that machine-to-machine interfaces are essential to the accessibility for low-income consumers. “Without a service provider API, consumers will be forced to go to an online portal to demonstrate eligibility, and then separately go to a Lifeline service provider to enroll for Lifeline service. This more difficult two-step process will disconnect millions of Americans from the enrollment process and expose others to data security risks, including phishing scams as described in the Q Link Petition,” NaLA explains in their comments. APIs are the connection between consumers and mobile wireless broadband and phone services. Millions of low-income Americans, including seniors, veterans, and disabled Americans could be denied access to data and phone services without the implementation of service provider APIs.

Implementing APIs is what NaLA refers to as a “common-sense” solution to create an effective and efficient National Verifier enrollment process. A NaLA statement explains, “A service provider API is simple, secure and cost-effective. And, a service provider API does not introduce any new security risks or Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance concerns because the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), which has been used by service providers for more than four years and will be integrated with the National Verifier, already includes service provider APIs.”

The National Verifier cannot wholly serve Lifeline consumers and the Lifeline program without implementing APIs. That is why “NaLA respectfully urges the Commission to grant the Q Link Petition and direct USAC to implement a service provider API into the National Verifier.”

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The National Lifeline Association Agent Certification Program Reaches New Milestone of 2,000 Sales Agents Trained and Certified in Lifeline Compliance

Today, the National Lifeline Association (NaLA) announced reaching a new milestone with the 2,000th Lifeline Agent receiving Lifeline compliance training and certification. The NaLA Agent Certification Program was created and launched by the National Lifeline Association in late April 2018. It provides Lifeline Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) with assurance that independent sales agents have been trained, tested, and certified in the rules and regulations of both Federal and State Lifeline programs.

The NaLA Agent Certification program also requires certified agents to retrain, retest, and recertify every 90 days. This ensures that agents regularly maintain knowledge of Lifeline, while also allowing NaLA to quickly disseminate, train, and test agents’ understanding of regulatory and compliance changes.

The NaLA Agent Certification Program provides independent sales agents with critical program information they need to be successful in the communities they serve and fully compliant with the rules and regulations of the State and Federal Lifeline programs. This program was outlined as an important 2018 initiative by the NaLA Board of Directors at the 2017 NaLA Annual Conference held in New Orleans, LA.

“We are especially excited to celebrate this impressive milestone only three months after launching this program,” said David B. Dorwart, Chairman of the National Lifeline Association. “The NaLA Agent Certification Program is critical to the advancement of the Lifeline program. It creates a national standard for agent training and assists ETCs in self-regulating field compliance.”

NaLA’s Agent Certification Program was created by some of the most respected compliance executives in the wireless Lifeline industry. NaLA’s vision is to help ETCs deploy well-trained, compliant, and informed field sales representatives to communities and help consumers who are in need of Lifeline program benefits. Most NaLA ETC members have voluntarily committed to require this certification process for all of their field sales agents as part of a larger commitment to thorough agent training and continuous self-regulation.

Regarding the Agent Certification Program, Kim Lehrman, President of enTouch Wireless and a NaLA Board Member, stated, “Adding an additional layer of certification to internal training programs for ETCs is exciting for our industry. The better agents are educated about Lifeline program fundamentals (i.e. consumer application and recertification) and regulatory compliance information, the more succinctly they can communicate how the program works to our prospects and consumers — ensuring a better consumer experience.”

About The National Lifeline Association:

The National Lifeline Association is a non-profit organization that provides a foundation of support for Lifeline participants, service providers, distributors, government and regulatory bodies, and other advocates of Lifeline.

NaLA members are passionate about supporting their vision, “In America, every person should have access to essential communication services.” With their leadership and direction, NaLA provides and promotes Lifeline education, collaboration, and advocacy across the U.S.

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FCC Lifeline Reform Detrimental to Lifeline Subscribers

On May 22, 2018, National Lifeline Association (NaLA)  met with legal advisors to Chairman Pai and Commissioners Carr, O’Rielly, and Rosenworcel to discuss proposed changes to the Lifeline program. NaLA representatives Kim Lehrman, Jose Cortes, Chuck Campbell, John Heitmann and Joshua Guyan raised concerns regarding the proposed ban on wireless resellers. The proposed FCC changes are contrary to the purpose of the Lifeline Program which is affordable service. NaLA representatives were open to a budget for the Lifeline Program within reason. But the main aim of the organization is to support the low-income consumers that rely on the Program and as such, they maintained that their commitment is to affordability and consumer choice.

Proposed Lifeline Reforms Threaten Service Affordability

Resellers are important to the Lifeline program. They support consumer choice and affordability. The proposed FCC changes will have a negative impact on the industry and the families that it supports. The proposal to remove wireless resellers from the Lifeline space would:

  • harm consumers by forcing more than 7 million (or roughly 70%) of all Lifeline subscribers to find a new Lifeline service provider
  • leave some low-income families without wireless service and with limited service options.
  • be detrimental to the program integrity and efforts to guard against waste, fraud and abuse
  • NOT bridge the digital divide by spurring additional facilities deployment or more affordable services.
  • upend the states’ role in designating ETCs, as well as the reliance interests of wireless resellers. 

As the preference and demand for mobile voice and broadband services has increased, Wireless resellers have willingly sought ETC designations and relieved landline providers of the obligation to provide Lifeline service. It is not clear why the FCC is taking such actions against a program that has been so helpful to low-income Americans. Among those it helps are seniors and veterans who may be retired, disabled, on fixed income, as well as other Americans who are looking for work.

NaLA Asks FCC to Reconsider Lifeline Reform Plans

NaLA proposes adopting conduct-based standards and agent registration to properly focus on bad actors rather than efforts that will harm consumers. “The FCC should freeze or roll-back the minimum service standards and voice support phase-out that threaten to deny consumers access to affordable choices that best meet their needs.”  The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has also contributed a budget in support of NaLA’s initiatives in this matter.

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 through education, cooperation and advocacy.

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LOBBYING UPDATE: NaLA Members Steve Klein and Jose Cortes Meet FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

NaLA will not let any opportunity slip away without fighting for everyone in America to have access to essential communications services. On Friday, with the help of Florida Congressman, Gus Bilirakis, NaLA members Steve Klein and Jose Cortes were able to meet FCC Chairman Ajit Pai during his tour of the Southeast. During this conversation, Steve and Jose were able to request a face-to-face meeting with Pai to discuss the Lifeline industry and the FCC’s proposed changes. We’ll share any updates on  future communications. We’d like to extend a special thanks to Steve and Jose for their great lobbying efforts.

 

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The National Lifeline Association Board of Directors Welcomes David Avila

Kennett Square, PA – (May 1, 2018)- The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) Board of Directors announces the appointment of a new board member, David Avila.

Mr. Avila, who will be joining NaLA for a three-year term, has ten years of Lifeline program experience and will assist the organization in supporting Lifeline recipients, providers, and program advocates.

Mr. Avila joined TracFone Wireless in November 2015 as Associate Vice President II, Lifeline Services providing leadership to SafeLink Wireless. SafeLink Wireless is known as a pioneer in the Lifeline industry and is the largest prepaid wireless Lifeline provider in the U.S. In this role, Mr. Avila is responsible for the development, marketing, sales, operations and compliance of TracFone’s Lifeline Services.  

Previously, Mr. Avila was employed by Sprint’s Assurance Wireless, where he helped launch the Lifeline provider in 2009. Over a six-year period, Mr. Avila worked to help the company grow from four to forty states and become the nation’s second largest provider of Lifeline services. At Assurance Wireless, he held various positions in the Product Development, Marketing, Sales Channel Management and Government Relationships departments.   

Mr. Avila has more than 30 years of experience in the telecom and technology segments, specializing in the areas of Development, Marketing, Operations and Regulatory Compliance. Additionally, Mr. Avila has worked for Virgin Mobile USA, AT&T Wireless, XO Communications (previously NextLink) as well as other internet, local and long distance service companies.

David B. Dorwart, Chairman of the National Lifeline Association, says, “I appreciate David Avila’s experience and closeness to Lifeline. His expertise and love for the job mirrors our organization’s mission. We are excited to have him on board.”

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 Participants & Supporters, 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.”

For more information on NaLA visit www.nalalifeline.org.

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National Lifeline Association Welcomes New Legal Counsel

Kennett Square, PA –(April 19, 2017)– The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) announces a new legal counsel on board, Maheen Cook. NaLa is excited to join forces with Mrs. Cook and her prevalent expertise in both telecommunications and Lifeline industries.

Mrs. Cook is an experienced telecommunications professional who understands the intricacies of the Lifeline program. Throughout her career, Mrs. Cook has focused on providing strategic advice and practical assistance in navigating the complex and dynamic telecom industry. She has extensive experience with coalition building and stakeholder engagement and has a proven track record of advocating on behalf of her clients.

Mrs. Cook most recently worked 

as Director of Legal and Government Affairs at TruConnect Communications, where she provided guidance on federal and state telecom regulations and policy, including the Lifeline program. Previously, she worked in the biotech sector for a manufacturer of medical devices and healthcare software, where she focused on cybersecurity and privacy policy.

Her expertise in Lifeline was honed while employed at Cricket Wireless and later at AT&T. In her role at Cricket, she favorably positioned the company in matters before state and federal utility regulators, drafted and advocated for state and federal rules to support the Lifeline program, and managed ETC reporting. Prior to Cricket, Mrs. Cook served as a Legislative Counsel to U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge, where she advised the Congresswoman on issues ranging from telecommunications and technology to taxes and the federal budget.

Mrs. Cook holds a J.D. from Widener University Delaware Law School and a B.A. from the University of Delaware. She is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania.

David Dorwart, Chairman of the National Lifeline Association, says, “Maheen Cook’s expertise and experience in both telecom and Lifeline compliment the strategic initiatives of our organization and we’re excited to work with her.”

 

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 Participants & Supporters, 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.”

For more information on NaLA visit www.nalalifeline.org.

 

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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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