All posts tagged: TracFone

TracFone Files Second Emergency Petition on National Verifier

November 30, 2018 – TracFone Wireless filed an emergency petition on the National Verifier, urging the FCC to direct the USAC to implement fifteen specific modifications of the National Verifier and its associated processes. This petition follows an earlier filing from TracFone in August 2108, which raised many similar concerns about aspects of the (then soft-launched) Lifeline Eligibility National Verifier.

Initial Emergency Petition on the National Verifier

The National Verifier, which has since hard launched in six states, was created to assist the Lifeline eligibility process for Lifeline Providers (also referred to as “ETCs”), who are typically wireless resellers that provide Lifeline service to qualifying low-income Americans.

During the beginning stages of the implementation of the National Verifier, TracFone requested a delay to the hard launch. Furthermore, they identified areas for improvement that would ultimately benefit the consumer and support the goals of the program to bridge the digital divide facing low-income consumers in America who are in dire need of access to telephony and broadband services. This consumer group includes veterans, disabled, and retired individuals living at or below 135% the federal poverty guidelines.

TracFone, FCC Discuss Lifeline Enrollment Concerns in National Verifier

On November 29, 2018, TracFone spoke with FCC Chairman Pai’s advisor to discuss its concerns regarding the National Verifier implementation. One of the main concerns was that the National Verifier would no longer accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefit cards and most Medicaid cards as documentation for enrollment in Lifeline-qualifying programs.

TracFone’s latest petition raises concerns about the continued implementation of the National Verifier without consideration of the prior requests. In the petition, TracFone states:

“Each of the modifications will maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the National Verifier, and importantly, allow the USAC to at all times retain full control of the ultimate Lifeline eligibility determination.”

TracFone Files Second Emergency Petition

Within the petition were requests for fifteen specific modifications of the National Verifier, including simplifying the paper application, allowing service providers to check applicant verification using APIs, and suspending new requirements of additional proof that are burdensome to eligible participants. TracFone asked the FCC to initiate a new rulemaking which would, among other things, explore other methods by which current low-income program participation and invalid addresses could be verified more efficiently. TracFone additionally asserted that implementation of the USAC’s changed policy regarding additional proof would preclude many Lifeline-eligible, low-income households from demonstrating their eligibility.

Additionally, TracFone’s petition conveys the seriousness of the challenges presented by the implementation of the National Verifier. It is essential that the USAC address the shortcomings associated with the National Verifier while providing a more effective and simplified enrollment process to better serve eligible Lifeline customers.

Read the November 30 TracFone Filing Here.

 

 

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Chelsea BoylanTracFone Files Second Emergency Petition on National Verifier
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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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