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Compliance Plan by Cricket Communications

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Released: February 7, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-158

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
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)

Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for
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WC Docket No. 09-197
Universal Service Support
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)

Cricket Communications, Inc.
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Petition for Forbearance
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)

ORDER

Adopted: February 7, 2012

Released: February 7, 2012

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:
1.
In this Order, we approve a Compliance Plan submitted by Cricket Communications, Inc.
(Cricket) for complying with conditions imposed in the Cricket Forbearance Order.1 In the Cricket
Forbearance Order
, the Commission conditionally granted, for the limited purpose of Lifeline-only
federal universal service support, Cricket’s request for forbearance from the service area conformance
requirement of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act) and section 54.207(b) of the
Commission’s rules.2 In order to receive federal universal service support for Lifeline service, Cricket
must comply with the conditions set forth in the Cricket Forbearance Order.3 In this Order, we conclude
that the Cricket Compliance Plan adequately implements the conditions of forbearance established in the
Cricket Forbearance Order. Accordingly, Cricket is eligible to seek ETC designation without
conforming its service area to that of the underlying rural telephone company for Lifeline-only support
provided that it fulfills the commitments in its Compliance Plan in each state where it is designated to
provide Lifeline service.
2.
Cricket is a facilities-based provider of digital wireless telecommunications services in 35
states nationwide.4 On June 21, 2010, Cricket filed a petition seeking forbearance from the service area
conformance requirement of section 214(e)(5) of the Act and section 54.207 of the Commission’s rules
for the limited purpose of Lifeline-only federal universal service support.5 The service area conformance


1 Cricket Communications, Inc. Petition for Forbearance, WC Docket No. 09-197, Compliance Plan (filed
September 23, 2011) (Cricket Compliance Plan); NTCH, Inc. Petition for Forbearance from 47 U.S.C. §§ 214(e)(5)
and 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.207(b)
; Cricket Communications, Inc. Petition for Forbearance, WC Docket No. 09-197,
Order, 26 FCC Rcd 13723 (2011) (Cricket Forbearance Order).
2 Cricket Forbearance Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 13723, 13726-27, paras. 1, 9; see 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(5); 47 C.F.R. §
54.207(b). Forbearance from the service area conformance requirement applies only to federal universal service
Lifeline support; Cricket must abide by the service area conformance requirements and seek redefinition of a service
area if it seeks federal universal service high-cost support. Cricket Forbearance Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 13723-24,
para. 2.
3 Cricket narrowed the scope of its forbearance request to not seek Link Up support and is therefore not eligible for
Link Up support. Cricket Forbearance Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 13726, para. 6.
4 Cricket Forbearance Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 13726, para. 6.
5 Cricket Communications, Inc. Petition for Forbearance, WC Docket No. 09-197 (filed June 21, 2010) (Cricket
Forbearance Petition).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-158

requirement of section 214(e)(5) of the Act and section 54.207 of the Commission’s rules require that, in
the case of an area served by a rural telephone company, a competitive ETC’s service area must be
defined as the rural telephone company’s “study area” unless and until the Commission and the States
redefine the underlying service area.6 In the Cricket Forbearance Order, the Commission found that
Cricket met the statutory requirements for forbearance, subject to certain conditions, and forbore from
applying the service area conformance requirement of section 214(e)(5) of the Act and section 54.207(b)
of the Commission’s rules, for the limited purpose of allowing Cricket to seek designation as a Lifeline-
only ETC eligible for support from the universal service fund for the provision of Lifeline service to
eligible subscribers.7 On September 23, 2011, Cricket filed a plan outlining measures that it will
undertake to implement the conditions imposed in the Cricket Forbearance Order, including certification
procedures and measures to prevent waste, fraud and abuse, including measures to prevent duplicative
Lifeline benefits from being provided to the same person or household.8 The Bureau released a public
notice concerning Cricket’s Compliance Plan on October 5, 2011.9
3.
In the Cricket Forbearance Order, the Commission conditioned forbearance on Cricket
implementing certain protections designed to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the program.10 Cricket’s
Compliance Plan implements these protections, in particular by committing to the following:11
(1) requiring each eligible Lifeline consumer to self-certify under penalty of perjury, at the time
of enrollment and annually thereafter until a national duplicates database is in place, that he or she is the
head of household, and that to the best of his or her knowledge, he or she receives Lifeline service only
from Cricket and is not receiving Lifeline-supported service from another Lifeline provider;12
(2) assisting consumers in making the self-certification by accurately listing as examples the
brand names of at least the leading wireline and two leading wireless Lifeline providers in the area to
ensure the consumer understands what is meant by “Lifeline-supported service;”13
(3) requiring Cricket to make available state-specific subscriber data, including name and address
of Lifeline subscribers, to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and to each state
public utilities commission (PUC) where it operates for the purpose of determining whether an existing
Lifeline subscriber receives Lifeline service from another carrier;14
(4) requiring Cricket to investigate any notification that it receives from a state PUC, the
Commission or USAC that one of its subscribers already receives Lifeline service from another carrier,
and to assist the Commission, USAC, state commissions, and other ETCs in resolving instances of
duplicative enrollment by Lifeline subscribers, including by providing to USAC and/or any state
commission, upon request, the necessary information to detect and resolve duplicative Lifeline claims;15


6 See 47 U.S.C. §214(e)(5); 47 C.F.R. §54.207(b).
7 Cricket Forbearance Order.
8 See Cricket Compliance Plan.
9 Comment Sought on Cricket Communications, Inc. Plan for Conditions Associated with Forbearance, WC Docket
No. 09-197, Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd 14245 (Wireline Comp. Bur. 2011). No parties filed comments to Cricket’s
Compliance Plan.
10 Cricket Forbearance Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 13730-32, paras. 15-16.
11 See Cricket Forbearance Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 13730-32, paras. 15-16; Cricket Compliance Plan.
12 Cricket Compliance Plan at 8.
13 Cricket Compliance Plan at 7.
14 Cricket Compliance Plan at 10. We note that this condition may not sunset upon implementation of a national
duplicates database, as Cricket argues. Therefore, Cricket must comply with this condition until further notice.
15 Id.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-158

(5) requiring Cricket to establish safeguards to prevent their subscribers from receiving multiple
Lifeline subsidies at the same address and safeguards to prevent individual subscribers from receiving
more than one Lifeline discount;16
(6) requiring Cricket to deal directly with the subscriber to certify and verify the subscriber’s
Lifeline eligibility;17
(7) requiring Cricket to explain in prominent, plain, easily comprehensible language to all new
and potential subscribers that no consumer is permitted to receive more than one Lifeline subsidy;18
(8) requiring Cricket to review proof of eligibility for consumers in all states in which Cricket
provides Lifeline service;19
(9) requiring Cricket to ensure that all marketing materials for the service make clear that it is a
Lifeline-supported service;20 and
(10) requiring Cricket to immediately de-enroll any subscriber whom Cricket knows is receiving
Lifeline-supported service from another ETC or knows is no longer eligible, and no longer report that
subscriber on an FCC Form 497 if a Cricket investigation, a state commission, the Commission or USAC
concludes that the subscriber receives Lifeline services from another carrier in violation of the
Commission’s regulations.21
4.
Cricket maintains that its implementing procedures, as set forth in its Compliance Plan,
fully satisfy the conditions established by the Commission.22 We agree and conclude that Cricket’s
Compliance Plan adequately implements the conditions of forbearance imposed by the Cricket
Forbearance Order
. We therefore approve the Compliance Plan, and, subject to Cricket’s fulfilling the
commitments it makes therein, it may be eligible to apply for designation as an ETC for Lifeline-only
support, without redefining its service area to mirror the service area of the underlying rural telephone
company. In taking this action, we remind Cricket that the Commission may institute an inquiry on its
own motion to examine the company’s records and documentation to ensure that the universal service
Lifeline support it receives is being used for the purpose for which it was intended.23 Cricket must
provide such records and documentation to the Commission and USAC upon request. If Cricket fails to
fulfill its obligations under the Act, the Commission’s rules, or the Cricket Forbearance Order after it
begins receiving Lifeline support, the Commission may revoke Cricket’s forbearance and/or limited ETC
designations, should they be granted, or assess forfeitures as permitted under the Act and the
Commission’s rules.24


16 Cricket Compliance Plan at 3-8.
17 Cricket Compliance Plan at 6.
18 Cricket Compliance Plan at 7.
19 Cricket Compliance Plan at 6. For states that require Cricket to enroll subscribers identified by the state or as
eligible in a state database, Cricket may continue to rely on the state database.
20 Cricket Compliance Plan at 4.
21 Cricket Compliance Plan at 10.
22 Cricket Compliance Plan at 11. The Non-Usage condition stated in the Cricket Forbearance Order, is
inapplicable because Cricket requires subscribers to pay a monthly fee for the service. See Cricket Compliance Plan
at 2.; Cricket Forbearance Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 13732, para. 15.
23 47 U.S.C. §§ 220, 403.
24 See 47 U.S.C. §§ 254(e), 503(b); Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Western Wireless Corporation
Petition for Preemption of an Order of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
, CC Docket No. 96-45,
Declaratory Ruling, 15 FCC Rcd 15168, 15174, para. 15 (2000).
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-158

5.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 10
and 214(e) of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. §§ 160, 214(e), and the authority delegated under
sections 0.91 and 0.291 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, that the Cricket
Communications, Inc. Compliance Plan submitted as a condition of forbearance eligible only for Lifeline
support in its licensed service areas IS APPROVED as described herein.
6.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to section 1.102(b)(1) of the Commission’s
rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.102(b)(1), this order SHALL BE effective upon release.
7.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this order SHALL BE transmitted to the
Universal Service Administrative Company.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Sharon E. Gillett
Chief
Wireline Competition Bureau
4

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