Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

WCB Grants GCI and Virgin Islands Tel. Lifeline Recertification Waiver

Download Options

Released: December 27, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2091

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
)
)

General Communication, Inc. Petition for Waiver
)
of Section 54.410(f)
)
)

Virgin Islands Telephone Corp. d/b/a Innovative
)
Telephone Petition for Clarification and Waiver
)

ORDER

Adopted: December 27, 2012

Released: December 27, 2012

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1. In this Order, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) grants a limited waiver from section
54.410(f) of the Commission’s rules and the 2012 re-certification requirement set forth in the Lifeline
Reform Order
to General Communication, Inc. (GCI). 1 Based on the record before us, we find that GCI
verified the eligibility of certain subscribers upon enrollment in the Lifeline program, alleviating the need
for it to re-certify the eligibility of this discrete and limited group of subscribers in 2012.2
2. We also grant Virgin Islands Telephone Corp. d/b/a Innovative Telephone (Innovative)
request for a 30-day extension to complete the re-certification process for a limited number of subscribers
in the Virgin Islands.3 Innovative must complete the re-certification process by January 31, 2013, and
report its findings by March 1, 2013.4 The relief granted to Innovative in this Order is a limited extension
of time for re-certification under section 54.410(f) and paragraph 130 of the Lifeline Reform Order.5


1 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(f); Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., Report
and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 6656, 6715-16, paras. 130-132 (2012) (Lifeline
Reform Order
).
2 General Communication, Inc. Petition for Waiver of Section 54.410(f), WC Docket No. 11-42 et al., CC Docket
No. 96-45 (filed Nov. 21, 2012) (GCI Petition); Letter from John Nakahata, Counsel for GCI, to Marlene H. Dortch,
FCC, dated Dec. 3, 2012 (GCI Ex Parte) (withdrawing a portion of the GCI Petition and narrowing the scope of its
petition for waiver). Most of the Lifeline Reform Order rules became effective June 1, 2012.
3 Virgin Islands Telephone Corp., Inc. Petition for Clarification and Waiver, WC Docket No. 11-42 et al., CC
Docket No. 96-45 (filed Nov. 29, 2012) (Innovative Petition); see Letter of Bennett Ross, Counsel for Innovative, to
Marlene. H. Dortch, FCC, WC Docket No. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Dec. 10, 2012) (Innovative Ex
Parte
) (clarifying the scope of the Innovative Petition). This extension of time applies to the approximately 60
Innovative Lifeline subscribers yet to re-certify their eligibility. Innovative’s Petition seeks clarification, or in the
alternative waiver, of certain reforms adopted in the Lifeline Reform Order. We will address the remainder of
Innovative’s petition for clarification or waiver of rules not addressed herein at a future date.
4 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.416(b) (requiring that ETCs annually provide the results of their re-certification efforts to the
Commission and the Administrator, as well as to the relevant Tribal authority, if applicable. ETCs designated as
(continued…)

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2091

II.

BACKGROUND

A.

Annual Lifeline Re-Certification Reporting Requirements

3. 2012 Re-Certification Requirement. In the Lifeline Reform Order, the Commission adopted a
set of uniform re-certification procedures that all Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) must
perform annually to verify the ongoing eligibility of their Lifeline subscribers.6 Section 54.410(f)
requires that ETCs annually re-certify the eligibility of their subscribers.7 To comply with the annual
requirement for 2012, all ETCs and, where applicable, state Lifeline administrators or an agent of the
state (collectively, “state agencies”) must re-certify the eligibility of their Lifeline subscriber base as of
June 1, 2012, by the end of 2012 and report the results to Universal Service Administrative Company
(USAC) by January 31, 2013 (2012 re-certification requirement).8 The 2012 re-certification requirement
is intended to work in lock step with the new certification of eligibility requirements established in the
Lifeline Reform Order.9 The Commission found that the upfront documentation requirement upon
enrollment would be a sufficient initial check of subscriber eligibility, and the annual subscriber self-
certification would assist in obtaining updated subscriber information for use in populating the National
Lifeline Accountability Database.10 The requirement for ETCs to annually re-certify their Lifeline
subscribers ensures that only eligible subscribers remain in the program.11 Any subscribers that fail to
respond to the ETC’s or state agency’s re-certification efforts must be de-enrolled from Lifeline pursuant
to the de-enrollment procedures set out in the Commission’s rules.12
4. ETCs and state agencies have the option of re-certifying subscribers in one of two ways, as
described in 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(f).13 First, to the extent that a database is available to verify program or
income-based eligibility, ETCs or state agencies must query the database to confirm the subscriber’s
continued eligibility.14 In the absence of a database, the ETC or state agency must re-certify the
continued eligibility of a subscriber by obtaining a signed certification from the subscriber that meets the
requirements of 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(d).15 The Lifeline Reform Order makes clear that “[r]egardless of the
format used to re-certify the subscriber’s continued eligibility for Lifeline, ETCs [or a state agency] must
convey all of the required information set forth in the amended section 54.410(d) and obtain from the
(Continued from previous page)


such by one or more states pursuant to § 54.201 must also report the results of their re-certification efforts to the
designating state commission(s)).
5 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715-16, 6897, paras. 130-32, App. C; 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(f).
6 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6714-22, paras. 129-48; 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(f).
7 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(f).
8 Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, para. 132; 47 C.F.R. § 54.416(b).
9 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6717-18, para. 134. The 2012 re-certification process requires that
ETCs re-certify their base of Lifeline subscribers as of June 1, 2012. The new documentation requirements, under
which subscribers show proof of eligibility upon enrollment, became effective June 1, 2012. Therefore, the two
requirements are designed to ensure that all Lifeline subscribers’ eligibility will be verified in 2012.
10 Id.
11 Id.
12 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.405(e), 54.410(f)(5).
13 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(f).
14 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, para. 131; 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.410(f)(2)(i)-(ii), 54.410(f)(3)(i)-(ii).
15 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.410(f)(2)(iii), 54.410(f)(3)(iii); Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, 6897, para. 130,
App. C.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2091

subscriber an individual certification for each requirement set forth in the rule.”16 In order to obtain a
signed certification from the subscriber, the ETC or state agency must send a notice to the subscriber
separate from the subscriber’s bill seeking information sufficient to re-certify the subscriber, and
notifying the subscriber that he or she will be de-enrolled within 30 days unless the subscriber re-certifies
that the subscriber is eligible to receive Lifeline.17 ETCs or state agencies may contact and receive re-
certification responses from subscribers in writing, by phone, by text message, by e-mail, by Interactive
Voice Response (IVR), or otherwise through the Internet using an electronic signature.18 If an ETC or
state agency is unable to re-certify a subscriber because the subscriber did not respond to the re-
certification request, the ETC must de-enroll the subscriber.19 If an ETC or state agency receives a
response from the subscriber that the subscriber is no longer eligible, the subscriber must be de-enrolled
within five business days.20
5. Each ETC must report the results of its re-certification process to the Commission and USAC
by January 31, 2013, using FCC Form 555.21 The re-certification process is not considered “complete”
until the ETC has de-enrolled all subscribers that either failed to respond to a re-certification request or
state that they are no longer eligible, or where a database query by the ETC or state agency indicates the
subscriber is no longer eligible and the ETC de-enrolls that subscriber.

B.

Petitions for Waiver

6. GCI Petition for Waiver. GCI seeks a limited waiver of the 2012 Lifeline re-certification
requirement with respect to 1,089 new Lifeline subscribers enrolled between April 2, 2012 and June 1,
2012.22 GCI asserts that its employees verified the eligibility of these subscribers by reviewing program
or income eligibility documentation and enrolled these subscribers using a certification form
encompassing substantially all of the section 54.410(d) certifications, and the form in use since May
obtains the subscriber’s consent to share its information with USAC.23


16 Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, para. 132. Electronic signatures may be used to satisfy the re-
certification requirement.
17 47 C.F.R. § 54.405(e)(1).
18 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.419; Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, para. 130. Any text messages sent for the
purpose of re-certification must be sent to the phone number associated with the supported service, and responses
must be sent from that phone number. Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, para. 132. When utilizing
phone or IVR, a subscriber must be prompted to certify to each individual requirement set forth in section 54.410(d).
Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, para. 132. If the state agency or third party is responsible for
performing the annual re-certification functions, the state or its agent must provide the ETC with a copy of the
completed re-certification form. Id. at 6715, para. 131 n.341. The ETC or state agency must also notify the
subscriber in writing that failure to respond to the re-certification request could result in de-enrollment. Id. at 6720,
para. 142.
19 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.405(e)(4).
20 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.405(e)(1). If the state agency is performing the re-certification, the ETC must de-enroll the
subscriber within 5 business days of receiving notice from the state agency that the subscriber was unable to be re-
certified.
21 See id.; Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, para. 132; 47 C.F.R. § 54.416(b). The FCC Form 555 is
posted on USAC’s website at http://www.usac.org/_res/documents/li/pdf/forms/FCC-form-555.pdf. See also
Wireline Competition Bureau Reminds Carriers That They Must Re-Certify Eligibility of All Subscribers By
December 31, 2012
, WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 03-109, 12-23 and CC Docket No. 96-45, Public Notice, DA 12-1626
(Wireline Comp. Bur. rel. Oct. 31, 2012).
22 GCI Ex Parte at 1. GCI enrolled approximately 1,089 subscribers between April 2, 2012 and June 1, 2012.
23 GCI Ex Parte at 2.
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2091

7. Innovative Petition for Waiver. Innovative requests that the Commission waive sections
54.410(f), 54.405(e)(4) and 54.416(b) for 30 days so that it may complete the re-certification process for
60 Lifeline subscribers in the Virgin Islands by January 31, 2013 and report the results to USAC by
March 1, 2013.24 Innovative states that prior to the Commission’s recent reforms, Lifeline subscribers in
the Virgin Islands have been required to re-certify their eligibility for benefits every six or twelve months,
depending upon the method the subscriber used to establish eligibility.25 Innovative states that because
the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) makes eligibility determinations for Lifeline
subscribers by consulting a database to determine eligibility based on participation in a certain federal
assistance program, Innovative has provided DHS a list of its Lifeline subscribers to be re-certified
pursuant to the Commission’s re-certification requirements.26 Innovative states that DHS has provided it
with the names of Lifeline subscribers who purportedly have been re-certified by DHS.27 Innovative
states that it is yet to receive information from DHS on the eligibility of approximately 60 Lifeline
subscribers, and Innovative believes those subscribers have yet to be notified about the need to re-certify
their continued eligibility for Lifeline.28 Innovative asserts that if these subscribers have been contacted
by DHS but failed to respond to re-certification requests, neither DHS nor Innovative is able to provide
such subscribers with the requisite 30-day notice of de-enrollment in time to meet the December 31, 2012
deadline.29

III.

DISCUSSION

8. Generally, the Commission’s rules may be waived for good cause shown.30 The Commission
may exercise its discretion to waive a rule where the particular facts make strict compliance inconsistent
with the public interest.31 In addition, the Commission may take into account considerations of hardship,
equity, or more effective implementation of overall policy on an individual basis.32 Waiver of the
Commission’s rules is appropriate when (i) special circumstances warrant a deviation from the general
rule, and (ii) such deviation will serve the public interest.33
9. GCI Limited Waiver of Section 54.410(f). The Bureau finds that good cause exists to grant a
limited one-time waiver of the 2012 Lifeline re-certification requirement to GCI for the subscribers it
enrolled between April 2, 2012 and June 1, 2012 who demonstrated their eligibility for the Lifeline
program. GCI established the eligibility of these subscribers and used certification forms containing most
of the certifications required in section 54.410(d) of the Commission’s rules. We note, however, that
GCI’s certification form in use during the time period at issue fell short of full compliance with the 2012
re-certification requirement in two regards. First, the form collected residential addresses without the
caveat that the subscriber must provide a physical address and that Post Office Box addresses are not


24 Innovative Ex Parte at 3.
25 Id.
26 Id. Innovative states that it is unfamiliar with DHS’s process for re-certifying subscribers whose eligibility cannot
be confirmed through an available database.
27 Id. at 2-3.
28 Id. at 3.
29 Id.; 47 C.F.R. § 54.405(e).
30 47 C.F.R. § 1.3.
31 See Northeast Cellular Telephone Co. v. FCC, 897 F.2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (Northeast Cellular).
32 See WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F.2d 1153, 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1969); Northeast Cellular, 897 F.2d at 1166.
33 See Northeast Cellular, 897 F.2d at 1166.
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2091

permitted.34 Second, it appears that the form did not obtain consent from each subscriber to share its
information with USAC.35 Because physical residential addresses are required to populate the National
Lifeline Accountability Database to protect against duplicate Lifeline benefits, we condition this waiver
on GCI obtaining by January 31, 2013, the physical address, not a Post Office Box address, for any of its
subscribers that may have initially provided a Post Office Box as their residential address on a
certification form. We further condition this waiver on GCI obtaining by January 31, 2013 consent from
each subscriber to share its information with USAC.36 Consistent with the Commission’s determination
in the Lifeline Reform Order, GCI may collect this data using a written format, text messages, or
Interactive Voice Response.37 With these conditions, we find that a limited waiver for re-certifying GCI’s
subscribers enrolled between April 2, 2012 and June 1, 2012 will serve the public interest and is
warranted under these circumstances.38
10. ETCs are required to annually provide the results of their re-certification efforts performed
pursuant to section 54.410(f) to the Commission and USAC.39 Because we conditionally grant a waiver
of section 54.410(f) to GCI for the subscribers described above, we waive on our own motion section
54.416(b) of the Commission’s rules requiring GCI to report the results of the 2012 re-certification
requirement for the subscribers subject to this waiver.40 GCI must submit a cover letter to USAC by
January 31, 2013, detailing the number of subscribers in each state that are subject to waiver of the 2012
re-certification requirement.
11. Innovative Petition for Waiver. The Bureau grants a limited waiver of sections 54.405(e)(4),
54.410(f), and 54.416(b) of the Commission’s rules, and paragraph 130 of the Lifeline Reform Order, for
Innovative’s 60 Lifeline subscribers in the US Virgin Islands.41 ETCs must provide a 30-day pending
termination notice to subscribers who fail to re-certify their Lifeline eligibility prior to de-enrolling a
subscriber from Lifeline pursuant to the Commission’s rules. Because Innovative has not received
information regarding the eligibility of a very limited number of subscribers from DHS, we find that it
would be appropriate to allow Innovative additional time to fulfill its obligation to provide the requisite
notice to subscribers before de-enrolling them from the Lifeline program.42 We therefore grant
Innovative’s request for a 30-day extension of the re-certification requirement. Innovative must complete
the re-certification requirement for the 60 Lifeline subscribers in the US Virgin Islands subject to this


34 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6895, App. C; GCI Ex Parte, Exhibit A.
35 GCI’s form in use from April 2, 2012, through May 7, 2012, appears not to have collected this information;
however, GCI changed its form on May 7, 2012, to include obtaining subscriber consent. See GCI Ex Parte at 2.
36 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6897, App. C. These conditions are consistent with waiver conditions
adopted by the Bureau in this context previously. See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, DA 12-
1927, para. 14 (WCB rel. Nov. 30, 2012).
37 Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715-16, para. 132.
38 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(d); Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6895-97, App. C.
39 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.416(b) (requiring that ETCs annually provide the results of their re-certification efforts to the
Commission and the Administrator (USAC), as well as the relevant Tribal authority, if applicable. ETCs designated
as such by one or more states pursuant to § 54.201 must also report the results of their re-certification efforts to the
designating state commission(s)).
40 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.416(b). GCI must provide the results of its re-certification efforts for all subscribers not
subject to this waiver.
41 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.410(f), 54.405(e)(4), 54.416(b); Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715, para. 130.
42 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.405(e).
5

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2091

waiver by January 31, 2013, and report its findings to the Commission, USAC, and the relevant state or
Tribal governments by March 1, 2013.43

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

12. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 1, 4, and 254 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154, 254, sections 0.91, 0.291, and 1.3 of
the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, 1.3, and the delegation of authority in paragraph 130 of
FCC 12-11, sections 54.405(e), 54.410(f) and 54.416(b) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§
54.405(e), 54.410(f), 54.416(b), and paragraph 130 of FCC 12-11 ARE WAIVED to the extent described
above AND CONDITIONED with respect to General Communication, Inc.
13. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 0.91, 0.291, and 1.3 of the
Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, 1.3, and the delegation of authority in paragraph 130 of
FCC 12-11, the amended petitions filed by General Communication, Inc. and Virgin Islands Telephone
Corp. d/b/a Innovative Telephone ARE GRANTED as described above.
14. 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


43 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.416(b). Innovative must provide the results of its re-certification efforts for all subscribers not
subject to this waiver to USAC by January 31, 2013.
6

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.