Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

WCB Grants Lifeline Recertification Request of PRTC

Download Options

Released: January 25, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-97

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
)
)

Puerto Rico Telephone Company’s Emergency
)
Petition for Temporary Waiver of 2012 Lifeline
)
Eligibility Recertification Deadline
)
)
)

ORDER

Adopted: January 25, 2013

Released: January 25, 2013

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1. In this Order, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) grants a limited waiver from
sections 54.405(e)(4) and 54.410(f) of the Commission’s rules1 and the 2012 recertification requirement
set forth in the Lifeline Reform Order2 to Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC)3 for subscribers who
did not complete the recertification process by December 31, 2012.4 The Bureau grants PRTC a limited,
20-day extension to complete the 2012 recertification process and waives the requirement that PRTC de-
enroll subscribers that did not recertify by December 31, 2012 for those subscribers that subsequently
completed a certification by January 20, 2013. The waivers granted in this Order are limited, one-time
waivers of sections 54.405(e)(4), 54.410(f) and paragraphs 130-32 of the Lifeline Reform Order, as
discussed below.5

II.

BACKGROUND

A.

Annual Lifeline Recertification Reporting Requirements

2. 2012 Recertification Requirement. In the Lifeline Reform Order, the Commission adopted a
set of uniform recertification procedures that all Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) must


1 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.405(e)(4), 54.410(f).
2 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, 6715-16, paras. 130-32 (Lifeline
Reform Order
).
3 Puerto Rico Telephone Company’s Emergency Petition for Temporary Waiver of 2012 Lifeline Eligibility
Recertification Deadline, WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 03-109, 12-23 and CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Dec. 26, 2012)
(PRTC Petition).
4 See 47 C.F.R. 54.405(e)(4).
5 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715-16, 6897, paras. 130-32, App. C; 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.505(e)(4),
54.410(f).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-97

perform annually to verify the ongoing eligibility of their Lifeline subscribers.6 Section 54.410(f)
requires that ETCs annually recertify 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”) were required to recertify by the end of 2012 the eligibility of their
Lifeline subscriber base as of June 1, 2012, and report the results to the Commission and the Universal
Service Administrative Company (USAC) by January 31, 2013 (2012 recertification requirement).8 The
2012 recertification requirement was 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 (database).10 The requirement for ETCs
to annually recertify 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 recertification efforts must
be de-enrolled from Lifeline pursuant to the de-enrollment procedures set out in the Commission’s rules.12
3. In the absence of an eligibility database, the ETC or state agency must recertify 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).13 The Lifeline Reform Order makes clear that “[r]egardless of the
format used to recertify 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
subscriber an individual certification for each requirement set forth in the rule.”14 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 recertify the subscriber, and notifying
the subscriber that he or she will be de-enrolled within 30 days unless the subscriber recertifies that the
subscriber is eligible to receive Lifeline.15 ETCs or state agencies may contact and receive recertification
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.16 If an ETC or state


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 6716, para. 132; 47 C.F.R. § 54.416(b).
9 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6716-17, para. 134. The 2012 recertification process required that
ETCs recertify 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 were designed to ensure that eligibility was verified in 2012 for all Lifeline subscribers.
10 Id.
11 See id. at 6717, para. 135.
12 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.405(e), 54.410(f)(5).
13 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.
14 Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6716, para. 132. Electronic signatures may be used to satisfy the
recertification requirement.
15 47 C.F.R. § 54.405(e)(1).
16 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 recertification 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 6716, 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 6716, para. 132. If the state agency or third party is responsible for
performing the annual recertification functions, the state or its agent must provide the ETC with a copy of the
(continued…)
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-97

agency is unable to recertify a subscriber because the subscriber did not respond to the recertification
request, or the 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.17
4. Each ETC must report the results of its recertification process to the Commission and USAC
by January 31, 2013, using FCC Form 555.18 The recertification process is not considered “complete”
until the ETC has de-enrolled all subscribers that either failed to respond to a recertification request or
stated 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 has de-enrolled that subscriber.19

B.

PRTC Petition for Waiver

5. PRTC sought a limited, 20-day waiver, until January 20, 2013, to complete the 2012 Lifeline
recertification process for subscribers that did not respond to PRTC’s attempts to recertify them by
December 31, 2012.20 In addition, PRTC sought a limited, 20-day extension of the date by which it must
de-enroll subscribers who did not respond to PRTC’s recertification attempts.21 PRTC argued that a
limited, temporary waiver of these requirements is necessary due to circumstances unique to Puerto Rico.
According to PRTC, the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board (TRB) annual renewal
process coincides with the timing of the Commission’s recertification process.22 The TRB process
required many PRTC subscribers to provide proof of eligibility and make many of the certifications
required by section 54.410(d).23 PRTC argued that consumers did not respond to recertification requests
because of the TRB process.24 PRTC proposed to not seek reimbursement from the Universal Service
Fund for support in January for any subscribers that did not complete the recertification process by
(Continued from previous page)


completed recertification 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 recertification request could result in de-enrollment. Id. at 6720,
para. 142.
17 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.405(e). If the state agency is performing the recertification, 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
recertified.
18 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6716, para. 132; 47 C.F.R. § 54.416(b). The Office of Management
and Budget-approved 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 Recertify Eligibility Of All Lifeline Subscribers,
WC Docket No. 11-42 et al., CC
Docket No. 96-45, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 12327, 12328 (Wireline Comp. Bur. 2012) (Recertification Reminder
PN
).
19 Recertification Reminder PN, 27 FCC Rcd at 12328.
20 In its petition, PRTC sought waiver for approximately half of its over 134,000 subscribers. See PRTC Petition at
3. Approximately 47,000 of its subscribers had not completed the recertification process by December 31, 2012 and
are subject to the waiver request. See Letter from Thomas J. Navin, Counsel for PRTC, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 03-109, CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Jan.
10, 2013) (Jan. 10 ex parte).
21 See PRTC Petition at 4; 47 C.F.R. § 54.405(e)(4).
22 See Jan. 10 ex parte at 2.
23 See id. In addition, a number of subscribers who were mistakenly de-enrolled by PRTC earlier in the year had to
re-apply, recertify and provide proof of eligibility at the time of re-enrollment. See id.
24 See id.
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-97

January 20, 2013.25 In addition, PRTC proposed to obtain the necessary consent from its subscribers to
provide information to the database by July 31, 2013 if the TRB’s petition to opt out of the database is not
granted.26

III.

DISCUSSION

6. Generally, the Commission’s rules may be waived for good cause shown.27 The Commission
may exercise its discretion to waive a rule where the particular facts make strict compliance inconsistent
with the public interest.28 In addition, the Commission may take into account considerations of hardship,
equity, or more effective implementation of overall policy on an individual basis.29 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.30
7. The Bureau finds that good cause exists to grant to PRTC a limited waiver, until January 20,
2013, of sections 54.405(e)(4) and 54.410(f) of the Commission’s rules31 and the 2012 recertification
requirement set forth in the Lifeline Reform Order.32 Given the limited scope of the waiver and in light of
the timing of the annual TRB recertification process, we find that a waiver would serve the public interest
under these circumstances. We accept PRTC’s representation that many of its subscribers may have been
confused by the overlap between the TRB and FCC processes, and we find that in these unique
circumstances, it would serve the public interest to allow an additional 20 days for PRTC to complete the
recertification process.33 PRTC subscribers who completed the recertification process by January 20,
2013 are not required to be de-enrolled from Lifeline. Subscribers that did not recertify by January 20,
2013 must be de-enrolled from Lifeline, and support cannot be sought for those subscribers for the month
of January.34


25 See Letter from Thomas J. Navin, Counsel for PRTC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications
Commission, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 and 03-109, CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Dec. 31, 2012).
26 See Letter from Thomas J. Navin, Counsel for PRTC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications
Commission, WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 03-109, CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Jan. 24, 2013) (Jan. 24 ex parte)
(committing to obtaining the necessary consent to transmit the information to the database by July 31, 2013); The
Telecommunications Regulatory Board of Puerto Rico’s Petition To Opt Out Of the National Lifeline
Accountability Database, WC Docket No. 11-42, CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Nov. 30, 2012).
27 47 C.F.R. § 1.3.
28 See Northeast Cellular Telephone Co. v. FCC, 897 F.2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (Northeast Cellular).
29 See WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F.2d 1153, 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1969); Northeast Cellular, 897 F.2d at 1166.
30 See Northeast Cellular, 897 F.2d at 1166.
31 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.405(e)(4), 54.410(f).
32 Puerto Rico Telephone Company’s Emergency Petition for Temporary Waiver of 2012 Lifeline Eligibility
Recertification Deadline, WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 03-109, 12-23 and CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Dec. 26, 2012)
(PRTC Petition).
33 See Jan. 10 ex parte at 3-4 (noting a jump in the number recertification forms received since the petition was
filed).
34 See 47 C.F.R. 54.405(e)(4); see also Jan. 10 ex parte at 1 (committing to not seek reimbursement for subscribers that
fail to recertify by January 20).
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-97

8.
We condition this waiver on PRTC’s commitment to not seek reimbursement for January for
any subscriber who did not complete the recertification process by January 20, 2013.35 In addition, PRTC
must, by July 31, 2013, obtain consent from all its subscribers to submit the required personal information
to the database.36 Consistent with the Commission’s determination in the Lifeline Reform Order
regarding the collection of required personal information,37 PRTC may obtain such consent using a
written format, text messages, or IVR.

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

9. Accordingly, IT IS 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 petition filed by Puerto Rico Telephone Company IS GRANTED AND CONDITIONED
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


35 Subscribers who failed to recertify by January 20, 2013 and who wish to continue to receive Lifeline benefits
from PRTC or another ETC must re-enroll in Lifeline, make the necessary certifications and provide proof of
eligibility.
36 See Jan. 24 ex parte If the Bureau grants TRB’s request to opt out of the database, the condition that PRTC must
obtain consent from its subscribers to transmit the required information to the database will not be applicable.
37 See Lifeline Reform Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6715-16, para. 132.
5

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.