New Lifeline Rules On Hold Pending OMB Approval, Only Okla. Tribal Changes Take Effect

JSI Invites Clients to Join a Group to Submit Comments to the FCC

Although the FCC’s June Lifeline-related Order on Reconsideration and Second Report and Order took effect on August 13, only the change to the definition of tribal lands in Oklahoma took effect on that date. The remaining items require Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) review, which as of today, had not yet been submitted to OMB. ETCs should continue with business as usual until such time the new rules are implemented. Considering that the PRA process has not begun, and several rules have an 180-day implementation period, you should not expect changes until winter/spring 2016. In addition, even though new rules are in an Order, it does not guarantee that they will take effect. Indeed, there were two rules in the 2012 Lifeline Order that were never submitted to OMB and therefore were never implemented.

The following rule changes have not yet taken effect, and therefore you should continue with business as usual:

  1. Requirement to retain customers’ proof of eligibility (and identity in case of NLAD dispute);
  2. Establishment of a uniform snapshot date for Lifeline support claims;
  3. Elimination of resale Lifeline reimbursements; and
  4. Waiver of the first-year audit rule for two new ETCs.

Note that the first two changes affect JSI clients the most and have been discussed in detail in previous e-Lerts and newsletters. When the rule changes do take effect, JSI will alert clients and host webinars on the specific requirements.

Efforts to Change New Rules
To date, two groups have filed Petitions for Reconsideration regarding the implementation of a snapshot date and the recordkeeping requirements. A group of wireless companieshave pointed out potential problems with using the first day of the current month for Lifeline support claims for the previous month. The wireless companies said this will result in many situations where ETCs would provide Lifeline benefits to consumers without receiving reimbursement for those services, for example, if the customer de-enrolled on the last day of the previous month and had been provided the Lifeline discount for that month. This will be especially problematic during an ETC’s recertification month. The group is requesting that the FCC modify the definition to include active customers as of the first of the month as well as those customers de-enrolled in the previous month.

CTIA-The Wireless Association filed the second petition for partial reconsideration of the data security aspects of the recordkeeping changes:

“Congress gave the Commission no authority to impose customer data security regulations other than with respect to CPNI, and neither Section 222(a) nor Section 201(b) gives the Commission authority to impose customer data security requirements of any kind. In addition, the Commission’s assertions that Sections 222(a) and 201(b) require carriers to protect data that goes beyond CPNI runs counter to the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) by (1) departing from longstanding precedent without reasoned explanation and (2) imposing such obligations without providing notice and seeking comment.”

CTIA-The Wireless Association notes that not only does this aspect of the requirement exceed the authority of the FCC, but the FCC also did not follow the appropriate administrative steps by giving ETCs an opportunity to comment on the rule change.

JSI is forming a group of clients to support these Petitions for Reconsideration, as well as to file reply comments on the FNPRM. If you are interested in joining, please complete our questionnaire by clicking the button below or contact Tanea Foglia in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590.

Source: Source email