Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

WCB Grants Limited Waiver of Certification Form Requirements

Download Options

Released: December 21, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2062

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
)
)
)

WAIVER ORDER

Adopted: December 21, 2012

Released: December 21, 2012

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Order, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) grants in part a Petition for
Waiver of the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom Petition) as well as petitions from
individual state commissions.1 Specifically, we grant a limited waiver of sections 54.407(d),
54.410(b)(2)(ii), 54.410(c)(2)(ii) and 54.410(e) similar to that previously granted by the Bureau to allow
more time for those states to implement a process to share consumer eligibility certifications with Eligible
Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs).2 The waiver will run from the release date of this order until June
1, 2013 for the US Virgin Islands and the states of California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Utah,
and Vermont, subject to the conditions described below. We emphasize that state administrators must
still obtain eligibility certifications from consumers signing up for Lifeline, a critical component of the
Commission’s rules to protect against waste, fraud and abuse.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
In the Lifeline Reform Order, the Commission adopted rules requiring that any state
responsible for determining the eligibility of Lifeline subscribers provide to each ETC a copy of the
certification form prior to the ETC seeking reimbursement from the universal service fund (Fund).3 In a


1 See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., Petition for Waiver of the United States Telecom
Association, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Nov. 29, 2012) (USTelecom Petition).
2 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 (2012) (USTelecom Waiver Order).
3 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 Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 6656 (2012) (Lifeline Reform Order). In those
states where the state Lifeline administrator or another state agency is responsible for the initial determination of
subscribers’ eligibility, ETCs must obtain notice of eligibility and certification forms from the administrator or the
applicable agency for each Lifeline subscriber before the ETC seeks reimbursement from the Fund for providing
Lifeline services to that subscriber. See 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(b)(2), (c)(2). Section 54.407(d) requires an ETC to
certify, as part of each request for reimbursement, that it is in compliance with all of the Lifeline rules, and, to the
extent required, has obtained a valid certification and recertification form from each of the subscribers for whom it
seeks reimbursement. See 47 C.F.R. § 54.407(d). Section 54.410(e) requires state Lifeline administrators that are
(continued...)

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2062

petition filed on April 25, 2012, USTelecom sought a waiver on behalf of ETCs in select states of ETCs’
obligation to obtain from the state a signed certification from a subscriber prior to seeking reimbursement
for that subscriber.4 USTelecom limited its request to the subset of ETCs and/or programs for which the
state makes initial eligibility determinations.5 Subsequent to filing the petition, USTelecom withdrew its
request for waiver for certain states.6
3.
On May 31, 2012, the Bureau conditionally granted in part and denied in part
USTelecom’s narrowed request for relief for 11 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.7
Specifically, the Bureau granted a waiver from sections 54.410(b)(2)(ii) and 54.410(c)(2)(ii) and portions
of section 54.407(d) with respect to ETCs in those states in which the state Lifeline administrator or other
state agency manages subscriber eligibility and was unable to modify, in the short term, its processes for
ETCs to come into compliance with these rules.8 On its own motion, the Bureau also provided a waiver
in these states from section 54.410(e).9 For the duration of the waiver, the ETCs in these states could seek
reimbursement without having received certification forms from the state.10 The waiver was granted until
(Continued from previous page)


responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber’s eligibility to provide a copy of the certification form to the
ETCs in that state. See 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(e).
4 Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., Petition for Waiver of the United States Telecom
Association, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 2 (filed April 25, 2012) (USTelecom April
Petition
) (seeking a waiver in particular states from sections 54.407(d), 54.410(b)(2), and 54.401(c)(2) of the
Commission’s rules). After filing its petition, USTelecom withdrew its request for a waiver from the requirement
that ETCs obtain notification of eligibility from the state. See Letter of David B. Cohen, USTelecom, to Marlene H.
Dortch, FCC, WC Docket No. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 2 (filed May 16, 2012) (withdrawing request for
waiver from section 54.410(b)(2)(i) and 54.410(c)(2)(i)).
5 See USTelecom April Petition at 2.
6 USTelecom also narrowed its original request for relief from 20 states to 13 states. See Letter of David B. Cohen,
USTelecom, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 1 (filed May 14,
2012) (withdrawing request for waiver in Kansas, Tennessee and New Jersey); Letter of David B. Cohen,
USTelecom, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45, at 1 (filed May 16,
2012) (withdrawing request for New York); Letter of David B. Cohen, USTelecom, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC,
WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 1 (filed May 21, 2012) (withdrawing request for Arizona);
Letter of David B. Cohen, USTelecom, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No.
96-45 at 1 (filed May 24, 2012) (withdrawing request for Ohio and Texas).
7 USTelecom Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 5942, para. 2 (noting that the jurisdictions covered by the narrowed
waiver request were California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Montana , Nevada, Oregon, the U.S.
Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, and Washington state); Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al.,
Erratum, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (rel. June 4, 2012) (adding Nebraska).
8 In the USTelecom Waiver Order, the Bureau waived only the portion of section 54.407(d) that requires the ETC to
have obtained a valid certification form from each of its subscribers for whom it is receiving reimbursement in those
instances where the state makes the initial eligibility determination. ETCs in the waiver states were required to
remain in compliance with all of the Commission’s other rules, including the obligation to obtain subscriber
certifications from consumers prior to seeking reimbursement in those instances not covered by the scope of our
waiver. See USTelecom Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 5943, para. 3 n.9; 47 C.F.R § 54.407(d).
9 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(e).
10 See USTelecom Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 5942, para. 3. The Bureau clarified that, as narrowed by
USTelecom, these waivers as granted did not apply to states or the ETCs in those states in those instances where the
state does not make the initial determination of subscriber eligibility for income or a qualifying program. For
example, in Florida, the state only makes eligibility determinations with respect to income, SNAP, TANF and
Medicaid, but not other programs such as Federal Public Housing assistance. See AT&T Comments at 8.
Therefore, the waiver was only applicable to Florida when subscribers qualify based on income, SNAP, TANF and
Medicaid. See USTelecom Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 5943, para. 3 n.11.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2062

December 1, 2012 or until the states’ processes were modified to allow for compliance with the rules,
whichever occurred sooner.11 The Bureau explained that to the extent that a state obtaining a waiver
required additional time to come into compliance, the state or ETCs operating within that state may file an
additional request for relief.12
4.
On November 28, 2012, three days before the waiver was set to expire, USTelecom
sought an extension of the waiver for an additional six months, until June 1, 2013 or until a state is able to
comes into compliance with section 54.410(e).13 USTelecom states that a waiver is no longer necessary
in the District of Columbia or Nebraska, but it seeks a continued waiver for California, Colorado, Florida,
Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Vermont.14 USTelecom explains that these states will not be able to provide
ETCs in their states with copies of subscriber certification forms by December 1, 2012 as required by
section 54.410(e) and require additional time to come into compliance.15 Similar requests for relief were
filed separately by Vermont, Oregon, Utah and the US Virgin Islands arguing that these jurisdictions
would be unable to come into compliance by December 1, 2012.16 According to the California Public
Utilities Commission and USTelecom, the California Lifeline administrator is unable to separate the
documentary proof of eligibility from subscribers’ certification forms.17 As a result, California ETCs
cannot yet comply with the rule prohibiting ETCs from retaining copies of a subscriber’s proof of
eligibility if the administrator provides such proof along with the certification forms.18 USTelecom
therefore seeks, in the alternative, a waiver of the rules prohibiting ETCs from retaining documentary
proof of eligibility in California.19


11 See id.
12 Pursuant to the USTelecom Waiver Order, USTelecom provided an update to the Bureau on July 31, 2012
regarding the states’ progress in coming into compliance with our rules. See Letter of David B. Cohen, USTelecom,
to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 1-2 (filed July 31, 2012) (noting
that California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, U.S. Virgin
Islands, Washington state, Utah and Vermont required a continued waiver). On August 30, 2012 USTelecom filed
an ex parte letter removing Washington state from the list of states receiving a waiver. See Letter of David B.
Cohen, USTelecom, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 1 (filed
Aug. 30, 2012). Therefore, waivers remained in effect in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida,
Idaho, Oregon, Nebraska, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah and Vermont until December 1, 2012.
13 See generally USTelecom Petition.
14 See id. at 3-4 n.10
15 See id. at 3-8.
16 See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., Petition for Waiver of the Public Utility Commission
of Oregon and the Oregon Telecommunications Association, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45
(filed Nov. 30, 2012); Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., Petition for Clarification and Waiver
of the Virgin Islands Telephone Corp., WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Nov. 29, 2012);
Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., Request for Extension of Waiver Order of the Idaho Public
Utilities Commission, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Nov. 28, 2012); Lifeline and Link
Up Reform and Modernization et al.,
Request for Extension of Waiver of the Utah Public Service Commission, WC
Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 (filed Nov. 21, 2012); Letter of John Cray of the Public Utility
Commission of Oregon and Brant Wolf, Executive Vice President, OTA, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket
No. 96-45 (filed Nov. 16, 2012); Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al. Petition and Certification of
the Vermont Department of Public Service to Opt-Out of the National Lifeline Database and for Waiver of § 54.410
(filed Nov. 1, 2012).
17 See USTelecom Petition at 6-7; Letter of Sindy J. Yun, California Public Utilities Commission, to Marlene H.
Dortch, FCC, WC Docket Nos. 11-42 et al., CC Docket No. 96-45 at 2 (filed Dec. 3, 2012).
18 See USTelecom Petition at 6-7.
19 See id. at 8 (seeking a waiver of sections 54.410(b)(1)(ii) and 54.410(c)(1)(ii) in the alternative).
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2062

III.

DISCUSSION

5.
Generally, the Commission’s rules may be waived for good cause shown.20 The
Commission may exercise its discretion to waive a rule where the particular facts make strict compliance
inconsistent with the public interest.21 In addition, the Commission may take into account considerations
of hardship, equity, or more effective implementation of overall policy on an individual basis.22 Waiver
of the Commission’s rules is therefore appropriate only if special circumstances warrant a deviation from
the general rule, and such a deviation will serve the public interest.23
6.
We find good cause to grant a limited waiver of sections 54.407(d), 54.410(b)(2)(ii),
54.410(c)(2)(ii) and 54.410(e) equivalent to that previously granted for the states of California, Colorado,
Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont, as well as the US Virgin Islands, subject to the conditions
described below. The waiver will run from the release date of this order until June 1, 2013 or once the
state or territory has come into compliance with the rules, whichever is sooner.24 We believe that these
jurisdictions continue to act in good faith in partnership with the Commission to implement the Lifeline
Reform Order
and find that that a limited waiver is necessary for these jurisdictions to fully come into
compliance with the requirement to transmit the certification forms to ETCs. We also find that this
waiver, coupled with necessary safeguards described below, will help ensure that eligible consumers will
continue to receive Lifeline service while at the same time protecting the Fund against waste, fraud and
abuse.
7.
The conditions originally adopted in the USTelecom Waiver Order will remain in place in
California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and the US Virgin Islands for the duration
of this waiver. Specifically, in these jurisdictions, the state Lifeline administrators or other state agencies
must obtain executed certification forms from Lifeline subscribers pursuant to section 54.410(d).25
During the waiver period, in accordance with sections 54.410(b)(2)(i) and 54.410(c)(2)(i), these
jurisdictions must provide notice to ETCs that new subscribers have complied with the Lifeline eligibility
requirements, as well as provide notice to the ETCs that new subscribers have executed a certification
form.26 We remind ETCs in these jurisdictions that they must maintain records to document compliance
with all Commission and state requirements governing the Lifeline program and must be prepared, upon
request, to produce copies of such state notifications to the Universal Service Administrative Company or
this Commission.27 To the extent that a jurisdiction obtaining a waiver as set forth in this section requires
additional time to come into compliance with the requirement to transfer the form to the ETC, the
jurisdiction or ETCs operating within that jurisdiction may file an additional request for relief. Any ETC
or jurisdiction seeking further relief should include in its request an explanation of the specific challenges
faced by the relevant jurisdiction in coming into compliance with this aspect of the Commission’s
Lifeline certification rules and a firm timetable for coming into compliance with those rules.


20 47 C.F.R. § 1.3 (“Any provision of the rules may be waived by the Commission on its own motion or on petition
if good cause therefor is shown”).
21 Northeast Cellular Telephone Co. v. FCC, 897 F.2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990).
22 WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F.2d 1153, 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1969); Northeast Cellular, 897 F.2d at 1166.
23 Northeast Cellular, 897 F.2d at 1166.
24 Because we grant the waiver as explained above, we need not rule on USTelecom’s request in the alternative to
waive sections 54.410(b)(1)(ii) and 54.410(c)(1)(ii) in California. See supra n.19.
25 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(d).
26 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.410(b)(2)(i), 54.410(c)(2)(i).
27 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.417.
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-2062

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

8.
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, 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 request for waiver filed
by USTelecom is GRANTED to the extent described herein.
9.
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 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 request for waiver filed
by the Public Utility Commission of Oregon and the Oregon Telecommunications Association is
GRANTED to the extent described herein.
10.
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 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 request for waiver filed
by the Vermont Department of Public Service is GRANTED to the extent described herein.
11.
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 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 request for waiver filed
by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is GRANTED to the extent described herein.
12.
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 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 request for waiver filed
by the Utah Public Service Commission is GRANTED to the extent described herein.
13.
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 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 request for waiver filed
by the US Virgin Islands Telephone Corp. is GRANTED to the extent described herein.
14.
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 sections 54.410(b)(2)(ii),
54.410(c)(2)(ii), 54.410(e) and portions of 54.407(d) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.407(d),
54.410(b)(2)(ii), 54.410(c)(2)(ii), and 54.410(e), ARE WAIVED to the limited extent provided herein.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Julie A. Veach, Chief

Wireline Competition Bureau
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.