Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

WCB Conditionally Grants CA Request to Opt Out of Lifeline Database

Download Options

Released: March 4, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-329

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Lifeline and Link Up Reform and
)
WC Docket No. 11-42
Modernization
)
)

ORDER

Adopted: March 4, 2013

Released: March 4, 2013

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1. In this Order, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) conditionally grants the certification
of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to opt out of the National Lifeline Accountability
Database (national database).1 We condition this grant on the CPUC’s deployment of a third party
identity verification service. The CPUC has demonstrated that, subject to the conditions described below,
its system is comprehensive and at least as robust as the processes adopted by the Commission in the
Lifeline Reform Order, and is capable of detecting and eliminating duplicative support.2

II.

BACKGROUND

2. In the Lifeline Reform Order, the Commission established the national database to detect and
eliminate duplicative Lifeline support provided to individuals and households, and imposed specific
requirements on eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs), such as the requirement to query the
database prior to signing up a subscriber to determine if that subscriber or a member of that subscriber’s
household is already receiving Lifeline support from another ETC.3 The Commission, however,
recognized that states may have their own systems for eliminating duplicative Lifeline support, and
established a process through which states could file a request seeking to “opt out” of the national
database.4


1 See Petition of the State of California Public Utilities Commission and the People of the State of California to Opt
Out of National Lifeline Accountability Database, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Dec. 3,
2012) (Petition); see also Supplement to the California Public Utilities Commission and the People of the State of
California’s Petition to Opt Out of National Lifeline Accountability Database, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC
Docket No. 96-45 (filed Feb. 13, 2013) (Supplement).
2 See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45,
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 6656, 6752, para. 221 (2012) (Lifeline
Reform Order
).
3 See id. at 6734-55, paras. 179-225; 47 C.F.R. § 54.404.
4 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6752, para. 221; 47 C.F.R. § 54.404(a).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-329

3. On October 11, 2012, the Bureau released a public notice providing guidance to states
regarding the opt out process.5 To opt out, the state’s system must be comprehensive and at least as
robust as the processes adopted by the Commission in the Lifeline Reform Order.6 In states where the
system meets this standard and the state successfully exercises its opt out rights, ETCs operating in that
state must comply with the state requirements for interfacing with the state database and will be relieved
of any obligation to comply with requirements regarding the national database.7
4. In its public notice, the Bureau also provided a waiver of the deadline by which states must
file their opt out certification, until December 1, 2012.8 State opt out requests were due Monday,
December 3, 2012, because December 1, 2012 fell on a Saturday.9 The CPUC filed its certification on
December 3, 2012, and supplemented its certification on February 13, 2013.10 The CPUC explains that,
in California, the third party administrator receives and processes subscribers’ Lifeline applications on
behalf of the CPUC, and checks subscribers’ documentation of eligibility, and for duplicative support.11
ETCs can query the CPUC system to determine in real-time if a prospective subscriber is already
receiving a Lifeline benefit from another provider.12 When a query is made, the CPUC system matches a
prospective subscriber’s name, address and/or telephone number with subscriber information already in
the CPUC system.13 The system also validates and standardizes the prospective subscriber’s address
information to facilitate the duplicate check.14 It also plans to verify the identity of a prospective
subscriber through a third party identity verification service.15 Unlike the other states that have filed opt
out requests, neither the CPUC nor its third party administrator has access to state eligibility databases.16


5 Wireline Competition Bureau Clarifies Minimum Requirements for States Seeking to Opt Out of the National
Lifeline Accountability Database
, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd
12321 (Wireline Comp. Bur. 2012) (Guidance PN).
6 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6737-46, 6747-52, paras. 188-208, 212-20. An opt out request will
only be granted when a state demonstrates it has systems that cover all ETCs operating in the state and all
subscribers of those ETCs. The opt out request must itemize with particularity the functions of its system that
correspond to the federal processes adopted in the Lifeline Reform Order. See id. at 6752, para. 221; Guidance PN,
27 FCC Rcd at 12322.
7 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6752, para. 221.
8 See Guidance PN, 27 FCC Rcd at 12321-22. The Bureau set December 1, 2012 as the date by which states must
file their opt out request.
9 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.4.
10 See supra n.1.
11 See Supplement, Attach. A, Appendix A (describing the roles of the subscriber, PUC and Xerox (the CPUC
system third party administrator) in processing CPUC Lifeline applications).
12 See Petition at 2; Supplement at 3-7.
13 See Petition at 4-5; Supplement at 1-2.
14 See Petition at 4; Supplement at 2-3.
15 See Supplement at 2.
16 Cf. Petition and Certification of the Public Utility Commission of Oregon to Opt-Out of the National Lifeline
Database, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 3 (filed Nov. 30, 2012); Petition of the Puerto Rico
Telecommunications Board to Opt Out of the National Lifeline Accountability Database, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et
al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 5-7 (filed Nov. 30, 2012) (Puerto Rico Petition); Amendment to the Petition To Opt-
Out of the National Database Pursuant to CFR 47 § 54.404(a) by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, WC
Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 5-7 (filed Nov. 16, 2012) (Texas Amendment); Amendment to the
Petition and Certification of the Vermont Department of Public Service to Opt Out of the National Lifeline
(continued…)
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-329

III.

DISCUSSION

5. The Bureau finds that, subject to the conditions explained below, the CPUC has demonstrated
that its system is comprehensive and at least as robust as the system adopted by the Commission, and is
capable of detecting and eliminating duplicative support. The Commission appreciates the efforts of
states that have moved proactively against waste by implementing a system to check for duplicative
support.17 We find that the public interest would be served by allowing California to continue these
efforts through its state-specific system.
6. The Bureau is concerned, however, that until the planned third party identity verification
process is in place in California, it may be possible for prospective subscribers to receive duplicative
support by intentionally or inadvertently providing incorrect information in their Lifeline applications.18
This risk is heightened in California because, unlike the other state administrators seeking opt out
approval for their states, the CPUC does not utilize an eligibility database.19 In addition to verifying
eligibility, such databases often provide an additional means of preventing consumers from falsifying
their identity because they generally require that a name be associated with another piece of identifying
information in the database, such as a social security number, address and/or the qualifying benefit.20 If
this association cannot be made, the consumer is denied the Lifeline benefit.21 No such check exists in
California.
7. Despite the inability of the CPUC system to verify a subscriber’s identity at this time, we do
not find that this limitation prevents the California system from being as “robust” as the national system.
Importantly, the CPUC has said that it will utilize a third party identity verification service in the future.22
Therefore, we find that, subject to the conditions described below, the CPUC has demonstrated that its
system is comprehensive and at as least as robust as the national system.
8. The Bureau conditions approval of the CPUC national database opt out certification on the
implementation of a system that incorporates a third party identity verification service. The CPUC must
file with the Bureau a description of how it will meet this condition by June 1, 2013, come into
compliance by August 1, 2013, and confirm in writing to the Bureau by August 10, 2013 that the process
satisfying the condition is in place and operational. If the CPUC does not comply with these conditions,
its certification will be deemed denied without any further action by the Bureau.
(Continued from previous page)


Database, Vermont Department of Public Service, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 4 (filed
Feb. 4, 2013) (Vermont Amendment).
17 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6752, para. 221; see also id. at n.579 (citing evidence showing that
California had already established a duplicates checking process).
18 See id. at 6742, para. 200.
19 See supra n.16. As explained above, the California third party administrator checks documentary proof of
eligibility. See supra para. 4.
20 For example, an eligibility database may return a response that John Smith actually lives at 123 Maple St., 1234
are the last four digits of his social security number, and he actually is receiving a qualifying benefit. See, e.g.,
Puerto Rico Petition at 5; Texas Amendment at 8; Vermont Amendment at 4.
21 See, e.g., Vermont Amendment at 4; Texas Amendment at 17-18.
22 See Supplement at 2.
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-329

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

9. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority delegated in sections 0.91,
0.291, and 54.404 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, 54.404, and in paragraph 221 of
FCC 12-11, the certification filed by the California Public Utilities Commission IS CONDITIONALLY
GRANTED as described above.
10. 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.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Julie A. Veach
Chief
Wireline Competition Bureau
4

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.

close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.