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                                                                   DA 11-1971

                                                             December 5, 2011

                                             Enforcement Advisory No. 2011-11

                               FCC LIFELINE RULES





   The Lifeline program helps low-income Americans access affordable phone
   service by providing discounts on one basic monthly telephone service
   (either wireline or wireless) for qualified subscribers. In order to
   ensure that the program is able to meet this important objective, and that
   critical communications services reach the targeted population, the FCC's
   Enforcement Bureau is issuing this Enforcement Advisory reminding all
   eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) offering Lifeline service of
   their obligation to properly confirm consumers' eligibility for the
   service, and to ensure that any consumers they enroll are not already
   receiving Lifeline service from another provider. It has been brought to
   the Bureau's attention that certain Lifeline providers may be in violation
   of these rules. We are actively investigating these allegations, and issue
   this Enforcement Advisory to alert Lifeline service providers that they
   face stiff penalties, potentially including revocation of their ETC status
   or their section 214 authorization to operate as carriers, if they do not
   strictly adhere to the Commission's rules.  Preventing waste, fraud, and
   abuse in universal service programs, including the Lifeline program, is a
   paramount objective of the Commission, and the Enforcement Bureau will
   take all necessary steps to ensure that this vital program is protected.

   What Do The Rules Require? The Commission's Lifeline rules prohibit ETCs
   from signing up for Lifeline service any consumer who is already enrolled
   in the program. Sections 54.401(a)(1) and 54.405 of the Commission's rules
   state that an ETC may only make Lifeline available to consumers who are
   not currently receiving Lifeline service. The Commission's 2011
   Duplicative Program Payments Order requires ETCs to explain to consumers
   in plain, easily comprehensible language that they are not permitted to
   receive more than one Lifeline subsidy. Enrolling consumers in Lifeline
   without first asking if they are receiving Lifeline service from another
   provider violates the Commission's rules.

   The Lifeline rules also require ETCs either to comply with state
   certification procedures to document consumer eligibility for Lifeline
   service (in states that mandate state Lifeline support), or to implement
   certification procedures as described in the Commission's rules, and to
   certify to the Commission that they are in compliance with the relevant
   procedures and were provided with documentation of the consumer's income,
   when income was the basis for eligibility.

   What Are The Potential Penalties?  Violation of the Lifeline rules may
   subject a company to monetary forfeitures of up to $150,000 for each
   violation or each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of
   $1,500,000. Moreover, in egregious cases a carrier could face revocation
   of its ETC status, and thus its eligibility to participate in the
   universal service program, or even revocation of its section 214
   authorization to operate as a carrier. In addition, false statements or
   misrepresentations to the Commission may be punishable by fine or
   imprisonment under Title 18 of the U.S. Code.

   Need More Information?  For more information about enforcement of the
   Lifeline rules, please contact Terry Cavanaugh in the Investigations and
   Hearings Division, Enforcement Bureau, at 202-418-1553 or Media inquiries should be directed to Mark
   Wigfield at 202- 418-0253 or

   To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities
   (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at
   202-418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY). You may also contact the
   Enforcement Bureau on its TTY line at (202) 418-1148 for further
   information about this Enforcement Advisory, or the FCC on its TTY line at
   1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) for further information about Lifeline

                                         Issued by: Chief, Enforcement Bureau


   47 C.F.R. S:S: 54.401(a)(1) and 54.405.

   Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Federal-State Joint Board
   on Universal Service, Lifeline and Link Up, Report and Order, CC Docket
   No. 96-45, WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 03-109, 26 FCC Rcd 9022 at para. 9

   47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(2)(B); 47 C.F.R. S: 180(b)(2); Amendment of Section
   1.80(b) of the Commission's Rules, Adjustment of Forfeiture Maxima to
   Reflect Inflation, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 9845 (2008).

   See 47 U.S.C. S: 214.


                            FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY

   Federal Communications Commission

   445 12th St., S.W.

   Washington, D.C. 20554

                                        News Media Information 202 / 418-0500


                                                          TTY: 1-888-835-5322