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WCB Extends Waiver of Eligibility Criteria in Oregon

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Released: April 1, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-591

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

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

WAIVER ORDER

Adopted: April 1, 2013

Released: April 1, 2013

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:
1.
In this order, we grant a petition filed by the Public Utility Commission of Oregon and the
Oregon Telecommunications Association (collectively, the OPUC), seeking extension of a temporary
waiver of the Lifeline uniform eligibility criteria.1 We conclude that the waiver extension is necessary to
give the state of Oregon sufficient time for its legislature to bring its law and rules into compliance with
the Lifeline uniform eligibility criteria. The waiver granted will extend until the sooner of July 1, 2013,
or the effective date of the required state statutory and regulatory changes.
2.
In the Lifeline Reform Order, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established
uniform eligibility requirements for all states.2 Prior to the Lifeline Reform Order, states that mandated
state lifeline support were permitted to set the Lifeline eligibility criteria for residents of their states,
provided that the criteria were based on income or on factors related to income.3 Oregon is one of the
states which has a law governing the eligibility criteria for Lifeline.4 The Oregon state law, however,
does not match the eligibility criteria provided for in the Commission’s amended rules.5 Oregon currently


1 Petition for Extension of Waiver, Public Utility Commission of Oregon and Oregon Telecommunications
Association, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Mar. 13, 2013) (Oregon 2013 Petition); see
also
Petition for Waiver, Public Utility Commission of Oregon and Oregon Telecommunications Association, WC
Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Apr. 19, 2012) (Oregon 2012 Petition). We previously
granted the OPUC a waiver of the uniform eligibility criteria until April 1, 2013. See Lifeline and Link Up Reform
and Modernization et al.,
WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45, Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd 5941
(Wireline Comp. Bur. 2012) (Oregon Order). Pursuant to that order, the OPUC was required to file status reports
regarding its progress in implementing legislation that would conform the state law to the FCC’s uniform eligibility
criteria. See id. at 5948, para. 16; see also Letter from John Cray, Program Manager, OPUC, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Mar. 1, 2013) (Oregon Status Report).
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, 6685-87, paras. 66-68 (2012)
(Lifeline Reform Order).
3 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.409 (2011).
4 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 2-3; Letter from Jon Cray, Program Manager, OPUC, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45, at 1 (filed May 8, 2012) (Oregon Ex Parte
Letter).
5 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 2; Oregon Ex Parte Letter at 1.

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-591

administers its state program in conjunction with the federal Lifeline program and qualifies consumers for
that program using the eligibility criteria established by its state statute.6
3.
Until Oregon’s state law establishing eligibility criteria for Lifeline is changed, the OPUC
is unable to qualify consumers for Lifeline eligibility because certain qualifying programs covered by the
FCC are not covered by Oregon’s law.7 In the absence of a waiver, the OPUC states that eligibility
determinations based on those programs outside of the state administrator’s jurisdiction would have to be
made by eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) providing the Lifeline service.8 The OPUC has
argued that this bifurcated process would impose undue and unnecessary burdens on ETCs and consumers
in Oregon, and would eliminate the benefits of a unified program administration.9
4.
The uniform eligibility criteria for Lifeline became effective on June 1, 2012.10 In April
2012, the OPUC requested a waiver from these criteria.11 The FCC granted a waiver from the rules until
April 1, 2013.12 Despite its good faith efforts and due to circumstances outside of its control, the OPUC
argues that its state law may not be able to be changed to come into compliance with the uniform
eligibility criteria by April 1, 2013.13 The OPUC explains that it sponsored a bill, introduced on the first
day of the Oregon legislative session, which would make the necessary changes to the state law.14 The
proposed legislation is still pending in the legislature but will not become law by April 1, 2013.15
Moreover, in order to implement the new law, the OPUC has implementation responsibility and contends
it will be required to put in place new requirements upon passage of the legislation.16 The OPUC requests
that the current waiver of the uniform eligibility criteria be extended until July 1, 2013.17
5.
We find that there is good cause to grant an extension of the temporary waiver from the
uniform eligibility requirements in Oregon until no later than July 1, 2013. The uniform eligibility
criteria established in the Lifeline Reform Order are designed to create a baseline of eligibility for the
federal program, to facilitate the establishment of an automatic means of checking for Lifeline eligibility
and to reduce burdens on ETCs by standardizing eligibility across states.18 Extension of the temporary,


6 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 2; Oregon 2012 Petition at 2-3 (“The OPUC is responsible for developing the single
OTAP and Lifeline application form, accepting and processing all Lifeline applications, and verifying the eligibility
of each participant on both an initial and ongoing basis.”); Comments of Sprint Nextel Corporation, WC Docket
Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45, at 5 (filed May 15, 2012) (describing Oregon’s process for enrolling
consumers in the Lifeline program using a state database administered by the state department of human services,
which contains information on Oregon residents that receive benefits under the approved state qualifying programs).
7 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 2-3; Oregon Ex Parte Letter at 2 (“[S]tate statutes do not authorize the OPUC to serve
or process Lifeline customers that do not meet Oregon criteria”).
8 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 2-3; Oregon Ex Parte Letter at 1-2.
9 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 4; Oregon Ex Parte Letter at 1.
10 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6859-60, para. 515.
11 See supra n.1.
12 See id.
13 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 2-3; Oregon Status Report at 2.
14 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 3; Oregon Status Report at 1.
15 See Oregon 2013 Petition at 2-3; Oregon Status Report at 2.
16 See Letter from John Cray, Program Manager, OPUC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket Nos.
11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Mar. 13, 2013).
17 See id.; Oregon 2013 Petition at 3; Oregon Status Report at 2.
18 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6685-87, paras. 66-68.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-591

limited waiver from the uniform eligibility criteria is consistent with these policies and is narrowly
tailored to the particular circumstances in Oregon.19 The waiver that we grant herein, like the waiver the
Bureau provided to the OPUC previously, will allow the OPUC to avoid creating a temporary, bifurcated
process under which some subscribers are signed up through the state administrators and others through
the ETCs.20
6.
Under the waiver we grant today, the state administrator in Oregon may continue to qualify
Lifeline consumers under the qualifying criteria established in its state statute and is not required to use
the eligibility criteria for the Lifeline program provided for in section 54.409(a) and (b) of the FCC’s
rules, as amended in the Lifeline Reform Order.21 The waiver will extend in Oregon until the sooner of
July 1, 2013, or the effective date of state legislation and the state regulations necessary to bring the
Oregon law and rules into compliance with the FCC’s rules.
7.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-4
and 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151-154 and 254, and sections
0.91, 0.291, and 1.3 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, 1.3, that the Petition for
Extension of Waiver filed by the Public Utility Commission of Oregon and the Oregon
Telecommunications Association is GRANTED to the extent described herein.
8.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-4 and 254
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151-154, 254, and sections 0.91, 0.291,
and 1.3 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, 1.3, that section 54.409 of the FCC’s rules,
47 C.F.R. § 54.409, IS WAIVED to the limited extent provided herein.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Julie A. Veach
Chief
Wireline Competition Bureau


19 See Oregon Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 5947, para. 13.
20 See id., at 5947-48, para. 14; see also Oregon 2013 Petition at 2-3; Oregon 2012 Petition at 3.
21 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6878, App. A (amending 47 C.F.R. § 54.409).
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