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Petition of YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, Petition for Expansion of its Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Designation

[49 Pa.B. 3031]
[Saturday, June 8, 2019]

Public Meeting held
May 23, 2019

Commissioners Present: Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, Chairperson; David W. Sweet, Vice Chairperson; Norman J. Kennard; Andrew G. Place; John F. Coleman, Jr.

Petition of YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, Petition for Expansion of its Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Designation; P-2011-2226044

Order

By the Commission:

 On November 2, 2018, YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom (TerraCom) filed a Petition to Amend its Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) designation to expand its existing wireless Lifeline-only ETC service throughout the Commonwealth for purposes of low income support from the federal universal service fund (USF) mechanism. In its Petition, TerraCom contends that the extension of its ETC designation will provide additional Pennsylvanians with a valuable, low-cost alternative to traditional landline service. The Petition was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on April 20, 2019 at 49 Pa.B. 1973. No Comments were filed in response to this Petition.

 We have reviewed TerraCom's Petition as supplemented and determined that it continues to meet the statutory and applicable minimum standards necessary under state and federal law to expand its service territory to provide wireless Lifeline-only ETC service throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Specifically, TerraCom has previously satisfied and continues to satisfy all requirements for limited ETC designation as required by Section 214 of the Act,1 the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) regulations,2 Section 3019(f) of the Public Utility Code3 and the Commission's orders on ETC designation. We hereby conclude that it is in the public interest to designate TerraCom as a statewide ETC thereby permitting TerraCom to receive federal USF support for providing Lifeline service to eligible low-income customers or households throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Background

A. FCC and State ETC Orders

 In 2005, the Federal Communication Commission, in the Matter of Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, First Report and Order, CC Docket No. 96-45, 20 FCC Rcd 6371 (First Universal Service Report and Order or 2005 ETC Order) addressed the minimum requirements4 for a telecommunications carrier to be designated as an ETC, and thus eligible to receive federal USF support. Specifically, consistent with the recommendations of the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service (Joint Board), the FCC adopted additional mandatory requirements for ETC designation proceedings in accordance with Section 214(e)(6) of the federal Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act). Additionally, as recommended by the Joint Board, the FCC encouraged states that exercise jurisdiction over ETC designations to adopt these same requirements when deciding whether a common carrier should be designated as an ETC.

 Accordingly, on August 2, 2010, the Commission entered its order adopting the Final Policy Statement on Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Guidelines for Designation and Annual Recertification as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) for Purposes of Federal Universal Service Support at Docket No. M-2010-2164741 (ETC Guidelines Order), which codifies the guidelines at 52 Pa. Code § 69.2501 (ETC Guidelines). By Secretarial Letter dated September 10, 2010, the Commission notified all carriers and interested parties on pending ETC petitions of the newly adopted ETC guidelines and invited carriers to supplement their petitions, consistent with the guidelines.

 Subsequently, the FCC has issued several orders affecting pending petitions for ETC designation in Pennsylvania.5 Significantly, the FCC's recent order, Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, et al., Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, WC Dkt. Nos. 11-42 et al., FCC 12-11 (rel. Feb. 6, 2012) (Lifeline Reform Order), directly affects all pending ETC petitions before this Commission. Thus, our review of TerraCom's Petition will be performed consistent with the FCC's recent Lifeline Reform Order and amended federal regulations governing ETC status, which we have adopted and implemented in the Commonwealth as the minimum standards applicable to ETC designation. All minimum federal requirements of the FCC's Lifeline Reform Order not expressly discussed herein are nonetheless applicable to ETC designation in Pennsylvania. This Commission continues to reserve its right to impose separate state-specific requirements where necessary for the protection of the Commonwealth's consumers.

 Concomitantly, in order to continue the mission of assisting qualifying low-income Americans to get and stay connected in today's technological climate, while at the same time relieving some of the burden on the entities providing this service, the FCC also had begun restructuring the federal USF Lifeline program.6 In its 2012 Lifeline Reform Order, the FCC eliminated the previous system of tiered support and set an interim funding rate of $9.25 per month and per eligible subscriber or household effective May 1, 2012.7 The FCC has issued three later Lifeline reform orders establishing a number of additional enhancements to the federal Lifeline Program, further connecting low-income Americans to voice services and, now, broadband.8

 By Commission Order entered October 14, 2011, YourTel America, Inc. (YourTel), a wireless carrier, was granted approval to provide Lifeline-only ETC service in the service territories of Verizon Pennsylvania, LLC (Verizon PA) and Verizon North, LLC (Verizon North).9 By letter dated October 15, 2015, YourTel notified the Commission that effective November 30, 2015, it would complete an internal corporate reorganization whereby it would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of TerraCom, Inc. YourTel filed this notice in compliance with 52 Pa. Code § 69.601, which requires Pennsylvania ETCs to petition the Commission for renewal of ETC designation in the event of a change in corporate control.10 The letter stated that the reorganization would not result in any substantial change to the corporate management of YourTel and would not have an adverse impact on any of its Lifeline service offerings.

 On September 19, 2016, YourTel filed a Petition for Waiver11 of the obligation to petition for renewal of its ETC designation, reiterating that the stock purchase agreement involved a change in ownership at the parent company level only and did not directly affect YourTel as YourTel will continue to be an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of TerraCom and would continue to be the operating company and the ETC. The only change noticeable to customers would be the name change, as YourTel would do business under the name TerraCom.

 By Order entered December 8, 2016, the Commission granted YourTel's Petition for Waiver. The Commission determined that the circumstances of YourTel's case did not warrant requiring YourTel to file a petition seeking a new ETC designation. The Commission reasoned that the transaction resulting in the change of ownership at the corporate parent of YourTel: (1) did not substantially impact the ETC's corporate management; (2) did not adversely impact the ETC's provision of Lifeline service to its Pennsylvania customers.12

B. TerraCom's Petition and Supplements

 In the instant Petition, TerraCom asserts that it has operated as a wireless Lifeline-only ETC providing wireless service in its current service territories in accordance with all state and federal regulations since 2011.13 A review of Commission records revealed that TerraCom was not the subject of any consumer or Commission-initiated complaints.

 Finally, in its Petition, TerraCom asserts that expansion of its ETC designation will make Lifeline available to many more eligible Pennsylvania residents or households. TerraCom explains that since its 2011 ETC designation, it has expanded its service offering by presenting new and unique plans as it expands and invests in Pennsylvania. Pursuant to its Designation Order, TerraCom has notified the Commission regarding these additions, changes and/or new offerings that are in addition to its Lifeline offerings and will continue to do so.14 TerraCom states that it is committed to investing in Pennsylvania and the infrastructure necessary to serve Pennsylvania customers.15

 The Commission notes that this is the first Petition filed by an existing ETC to expand its limited ETC designation service area to provide wireless Lifeline service on a statewide basis. We take note that in 2010, this Commission granted Virgin Mobile USA, L.P.'s ETC Petition to provide statewide wireless Lifeline services in Pennsylvania.16 The Commission also notes that the legal standard for an ETC designation is the same whether an ETC Petitioner is seeking statewide designation or territory-specific designation. That standard is whether an ETC Petitioner meets the statutory criteria and applicable minimum standards necessary under federal and state law to obtain ETC designation. The request for statewide or limited ETC designation is simply based upon the Petitioner's business plan and in what ILEC territories it seeks to obtain an ETC designation.

Discussion

 In reviewing ETC Petitions, the Commission's usual course of business is to address whether the Petitioner satisfies the applicable federal and state criteria including the financial and technical ability to provide the services and functionalities supported by the universal service programs. We emphasize that TerraCom is an existing Lifeline-only ETC and is currently providing Lifeline service to customers in Pennsylvania. We further emphasize that this Commission previously found TerraCom to be financially and technically fit to provide Lifeline service in the Commonwealth. Also, there is no evidence that the Petitioner has substantial quality of service concerns or issues with waste, fraud, and abuse surrounding its participation in the Lifeline program. With that in mind, we now review TerraCom's petition to expand its Lifeline service offerings throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

I. TerraCom Satisfies Federal Requirements for Statewide ETC Designation

 A. TerraCom Satisfies the Requirements of 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)

 Section 214(e)(1) of the Act provides that applicants for ETC designation must be common carriers that will offer all of the services supported by the federal USF either using their own facilities or a combination of their own facilities and the resale of another carrier's services. Applicants must also commit to advertise the availability and rates of service.

 Section 153(10) of the Act defines a common carrier as ''any person engaged as a common carrier for hire, in interstate or foreign communications by wire or radio. . .''17 The FCC has determined on numerous occasions that providers of mobile wireless services shall be treated as common carriers for regulatory purposes. As a provider of wireless telecommunications services, TerraCom is a common carrier. Additionally, TerraCom has been providing Lifeline services as a designated ETC since 2011. TerraCom is also in compliance with the advertising requirements. TerraCom continues to advertise the availability of its Lifeline services using media of general circulation. And TerraCom continues to provide BCS with copies of its advertising, promotional and general Lifeline program-related customer notices and communications.18

 B. TerraCom Satisfies the Requirements of FCC Rules and Orders Governing ETC Designations

 1. 47 CFR § 54.101

 TerraCom attests that it currently provides all of the services and functionalities supported by the federal universal service program as set forth in Section 54.101(a) of the FCC's regulations throughout its designated service territory in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Commission concludes that, as an existing Lifeline provider in good standing, TerraCom satisfies this requirement. Petition at p. 3.

 a. Voice Grade Access to the Public Switched Telephone Network

 TerraCom provides voice grade access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and offers its customers services for connection to the PSTN at band width rates that comply with FCC's regulations.19 Petition at p. 3. The Commission concludes that, as an existing Lifeline provider in good standing, TerraCom satisfies this requirement.

 b. Minutes of Use for Local Service

 As part of the voice grade access to the PSTN, an ETC must provide local calling services to its customers at no additional charge. The FCC has determined that a carrier satisfies the local usage requirements when it offers customers rate plans containing varying amounts of local usage.20 Pursuant to 54.408, effective December 1, 2018, the minimum service standard for mobile voice is 1,000 minutes.21

 TerraCom is an existing ETC that continues to comply with the requirement of offering local calling plans as well as providing its Lifeline customers with access to a variety of other features including voice mail, caller I.D., call waiting services, and enhanced 911 (E911) capabilities and directory assistance. Petition at p. 3. Since TerraCom's Lifeline local calling plans offer customers a bucket of minutes, this meets the local calling requirement of 47 CFR § 54.101.

 c. Access to Emergency Services

 As an existing ETC, TerraCom provides access to 911 and E911 emergency services for all of its wireless customers and will offer these same services to its Lifeline customers throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.22

 d. Toll Limitation Services

 Under the new language of 47 CFR § 54.400, the FCC has defined three terms addressing the service provided by an ETC by which a subscriber may prevent toll charges from accumulation beyond a set point. Specifically, Subsection 54.400(b) of the FCC's regulations define ''toll blocking'' as the service a subscriber may elect to not allow outgoing toll calls. Subsection (c) defines ''toll control service'' as the service a subscriber may elect to specify a set amount of toll usage allowed per month or per billing cycle. Subsection (d) defines ''toll limitation service'' as a generic term covering either toll blocking or toll control service for ETCs that are incapable of providing both, or covering both where an ETC is capable of providing both.

 TerraCom provides its wireless services on a prepaid or pay-in-advance basis. TerraCom's service is not offered on a distance-sensitive basis and minutes are not charged separately for local or domestic long-distance services. Customers must specifically authorize access for international services, for which additional charges may apply. Therefore, the nature of TerraCom's service eliminates concern that low-income customers will incur significant charges of long-distance charges.23

 Accordingly, TerraCom satisfies 47 CFR § 54.101(a)(1) of the FCC's regulations.

 e. Eligible Broadband Internet Access Services

 An ETC must offer Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data by wire or radio from all or substantially all Internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up service.24 TerraCom's website states that it provides 2GB of data at no charge each month to all of its Lifeline customers.25 This is consistent with TerraCom's most recent Lifeline service offering update provided in writing to the Commission in November 2018.26 In addition, TerraCom attests that it operates in compliance with all federal ETC requirements, which would include BIAS-related requirements. Petition at p. 2-3. Accordingly, TerraCom satisfies 47 CFR § 54.101(a)(2) of the FCC's regulations.

 2. 47 CFR § 54.201

Definition of ETC

 Pursuant to Section 153(10) of the Act, ''common carrier'' is defined as ''any person engaged as a common carrier for hire, in interstate or foreign communications by wire or radio[.]'' 47 U.S.C. § 153(10). A carrier is eligible under 47 CFR § 54.201 so long as it offers the services set forth in Section 54.101, either through its own facilities or a combination of its own facilities and the resale of another carrier's services, and advertises the availability of the federal universal support services using media of general distribution. Common carriers that provide services consistent with the requirements of Section 214(e) may be designated ETCs. TerraCom previously demonstrated that it can provide the supported services over its own existing network infrastructure in combination with services obtained by other carriers in Pennsylvania. Petition at p. 2. Accordingly, TerraCom has met this requirement.

 3. 47 CFR § 54.202

Additional Requirements

 TerraCom also meets the additional requirements for ETC designation set forth in 47 CFR § 54.202, as discussed below.

 a. 47 CFR § 54.202(a)(1)

Compliance with Service Requirements

 In order to satisfy these criteria, an ETC applicant must demonstrate its commitment and ability to provide the supported services throughout the designated service area: (1) by providing services to all customers making a reasonable request for services within the ETC's designated service area; and (2) by submitting a ''five year plan that describes with specificity proposed improvements or upgrades to the applicant's network throughout its proposed service area.''

 As part of its Lifeline-only ETC designation received in 2011, TerraCom committed to providing services throughout its proposed service area—the Verizon PA and Verizon North service territories—to all customers making a reasonable request for service. Based on TerraCom's representations in its Petition that it meets all of the federal ETC requirements, which would include the above ''reasonable request for services'' requirement, we believe TerraCom has demonstrated its commitment to providing Lifeline service throughout Pennsylvania to all customers making a reasonable request for service. Therefore, we find that TerraCom meets the requirements of Section 54.202(a)(1).

 The ''five-year plan'' requirement set forth in 47 CFR § 54.202(a)(1)(ii) is not applicable to TerraCom's Petition for ETC expansion. TerraCom is a Lifeline-only ETC and seeks to expand its ETC designation in Pennsylvania only for purposes of participation in the USF's Low-Income program. TerraCom does not seek ETC designation to offer services supported by the federal high-cost program. Because TerraCom will not offer services supported by the federal high-cost program, the ''five-year plan'' requirements do not apply to the instant request.

 b. 47 CFR § 54.202(a)(2)

Functionality in Emergency Situations

 An ETC applicant is required to demonstrate its ability to remain functional in emergency situations. In order to satisfy this criterion, an applicant must demonstrate it has a reasonable amount of back-up power to ensure functionality without an external power source, is able to reroute traffic around damaged facilities, and can manage traffic spikes resulting from emergency situations.

 TerraCom currently provides 911 and E911 services to its wireless Lifeline subscribers. Petition at p. 3. Moreover, pursuant to 47 CFR § 54.422(b)(4), TerraCom must provide to the FCC annual certification that it is ''able to function in emergency situations as set forth in § 54.202(a)(2).'' TerraCom has provided such certification and therefore, is complying with this rule. TerraCom in its Petition represents that it meets all of the federal ETC requirements, which would include the above emergency functionality requirements. Accordingly, we find that TerraCom meets the requirements of Section 54.202(a)(2).

 c. 47 CFR § 54.202(a)(3)

Customer Service and Service Quality Standards

 A carrier seeking an ETC designation must demonstrate its commitment to meeting consumer protection and service quality standards in its application. TerraCom asserts that as an ETC since 2011, it has demonstrated a history of complying with various consumer protection and service standards. TerraCom certifies that it will continue its commitment to meeting consumer protection and service quality standards with the provisioning of Lifeline service to its customers.

 TerraCom certifies that it has satisfied applicable consumer protection and service quality standards, as required by 47 CFR § 54.202(a)(3). Additionally, TerraCom will continue to cooperate with BCS in resolving any Lifeline-related consumer complaints. We find that TerraCom continues to meet the requirements of Section 54.202(a)(3).

 d. 47 CFR § 54.202(a)(4)

Financial and Technical Ability

 Generally, carriers seeking only low-income support under Subpart E, 47 CFR §§ 54.400—54.422, must demonstrate they possess the financial and technical ability to provide Lifeline service. TerraCom is seeking statewide expansion of its Lifeline-only ETC designation and must demonstrate financial and technical ability to provide Lifeline Service and all other services.

 TerraCom has been providing Lifeline services to Pennsylvania consumers since 2011, and this Commission previously found TerraCom to be financially and technically fit to provide Lifeline service in the Verizon PA and Verizon North service territories. There is a rebuttable presumption that TerraCom continues to satisfy the requirement for financial and technical fitness. Rural Tel. Co. Coalition v. Pa. PUC, 941 A.2d 751 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008) (CLEC applicant that is currently providing services in Pennsylvania has a rebuttable presumption of fitness to provide services in other portions of Pennsylvania). Accordingly, TerraCom meets the requirements of 47 CFR § 54.202(a)(4) and, at this time, is deemed financially and technically capable of continuing to provide Lifeline service in accordance with the FCC's rules. However, if additional information becomes available that casts doubt on TerraCom's financial integrity, we reserve the right to re-visit our determination in this area.

 e. 47 CFR §§ 54.202(a)(5) and 54.202(a)(6)

Terms and Conditions of Lifeline Plans

 Carriers seeking only low-income support under Subpart E, 47 CFR §§ 54.400—54.422, must submit the terms and conditions of the plans offered to Lifeline subscribers. TerraCom's service offerings for Lifeline customers were approved in its 2011 Designation Order. Additionally, in compliance with its Designation Order, TerraCom has notified the Commission regarding these additions, changes and/or new offerings that are in addition to its Lifeline offerings and will continue to do so.27 We find that TerraCom meets the requirements of Sections 54.202(a)(5) and 54.202(a)(6).

 f. 47 CFR § 54.202(b)

Public Interest Standard

 This rule requires that the ETC designation be in the ''public interest.'' In determining whether granting TerraCom's Petition for ETC expansion is in the public interest, the Commission takes into account the benefits of increased consumer choice when conducting its public interest analysis.28 In particular, granting an ETC designation may serve the public interest by providing a choice of service offerings in rural and high-cost areas.29 However, the value of increased competition, by itself, may not satisfy the public interest test.30

 Additionally, in doing its public interest analysis, the Commission will also consider the particular advantages and disadvantages of an ETC's service offering. Thus, TerraCom's request for ETC expansion must be examined in light of the Act's goals of providing low-income consumers with access to telecommunications services.

 TerraCom's Petition for ETC expansion is in the public interest, as required by 47 CFR § 54.202(b). The primary purpose of universal service is to ensure that Consumers—especially low-income consumers—receive affordable and comparable telecommunications services. Expanding TerraCom's ETC designation to provide statewide wireless Lifeline service in Pennsylvania will further the public interest by making Lifeline service available to more Pennsylvania residents or households. Expanding TerraCom's ETC designation will provide an additional valuable alternative to the existing Lifeline services currently available outside the Verizon PA and Verizon North service territories, thereby providing Commonwealth consumers, especially low-income consumers, with lower prices and higher quality services, which is a vital economic resource for low-income consumers that leads to improved wage levels and personal safety. Many lower-income customers in Pennsylvania have yet to reap the full benefits of the intensely competitive wireless market. Therefore, as in the Virgin Mobil case, granting TerraCom's Petition to expand its Lifeline service territory as an ETC in Pennsylvania will enable it to expand the availability of affordable telecommunications services to qualifying Pennsylvania consumers.

 g. 47 CFR § 54.202(c)

Tribal Lands

 ETC designation to serve any tribal lands is inapplicable in Pennsylvania, making 47 CFR § 54.202(d) inapplicable to TerraCom's Petition.

 4. 47 CFR § 54.203

ETCs for Unserved Areas

 Because TerraCom's Petition does not involve service to an unserved area, 47 CFR § 54.203 is not applicable.

 5. 47 CFR § 54.205

Relinquishment of Universal Service

 If at some point in the future TerraCom seeks to relinquish its ETC designation, TerraCom agrees to comply with the requirements of 47 CFR § 54.205.

 6. 47 CFR § 54.207

Service Areas

 Because TerraCom does not request redefinition of any rural local exchange carrier (RLEC) study area or grant of forbearance from the FCC in connection with its proposed ETC service area, Section 54.207 is not applicable.

 We note that TerraCom's ETC expansion request encompasses providing Lifeline service to both rural and non-rural areas. This expansion would permit TerraCom to provide Lifeline service in RLEC territories and might seemingly appear to trigger a review of whether 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(5) of the Act and 47 CFR § 54.207 are applicable in this situation. Section 214(e)(5) provides:

The term ''service area'' means a geographic area established by a State commission (or the Commission under paragraph 6) for the purpose of determining universal service obligations and support mechanisms. In the case of an area served by a rural telephone company, ''service area'' means such company's ''study area'' unless and until the FCC and the States, after taking into account recommendations of a Federal-State Joint Board instituted under section 410(c) of this title, establish a different definition of service for such company.

 However, pursuant to Section 10 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, the FCC granted limited forbearance for Lifeline-only ETCs from the requirement of Section 214(e)(5) of the Act and Section 54.207(b) of the FCC rules that the service area of an ETC conform to the service area of a rural telephone company serving the same area.31 Accordingly, even if TerraCom's expansion request to obtain ETC designation on a statewide basis encompasses designated service areas that are smaller than the rural telephone company's service area, Section 214(e)(5) of the Act and Section 54.207(b) of the FCC's rules do not apply, and the Commission does not need to redefine or seek to amend the RLEC's service area.

 Admittedly, this limited forbearance is inapplicable to a high-cost ETC seeking to expand its limited designated service areas that is not a Connect America Fund Phase II Auction 903 winning bidder. In such a circumstance, the carrier must satisfy all of the statutory requirements applicable to ETCs under Section 214(e)(5) and 54.207(b) for other reasons.32 Since TerraCom is a Lifeline-only ETC, however, it is not necessary to apply these sections to TerraCom's request. Moreover, absent any pending complaints or lack of compliance with applicable reporting requirements, TerraCom has a rebuttable presumption that it can provide Lifeline service in the service areas of the rural ILEC(s) for which it now seeks to expand its provision of Lifeline service. Rural Tel. Co. Coalition. For these reasons, Section 54.207 is not applicable to TerraCom's Petition.

 C. Certification of Eligibility for Benefits under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act

 Petitioners must certify that neither the petitioner nor any party to the petition is subject to a denial of federal benefits pursuant to Section 5301 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, as implemented in Section 1.2002 of the FCC's rules.33 TerraCom has submitted a certification that satisfies the requirements of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, as codified in Sections 1.2001—1.2003 of the FCC's rules.34

II. Federal Requirements of Eligible Telecommunications Carriers for Universal Service Support for Low-Income Consumers

 The major goal of the FCC's Lifeline Reform Order was to implement procedures designed to preserve the federal USF resources and prevent waste, fraud and abuse. To that end, the FCC codified rules governing the entire process of Lifeline reimbursement from the federal USF. These changes establish defined terms governing the provision of low-income support and establish parameters governing a carrier's duties and eligibility for USF low income support. Specifically, revised 47 CFR § 54.400 establishes relevant terms and definition for provision of Lifeline; 47 CFR § 54.401 defines Lifeline as a non-transferrable retail service; 47 CFR § 54.403 establishes the Lifeline support amounts for which ETCs may seek from the USF; and 47 CFR § 54.404 requires the creation of a National Lifeline Accountability Database, which intends to provide a national database for ETCs to cross-check subscriber eligibility as a means to eliminate the USF support for duplicative or otherwise ineligible subscribers.

 Further, the Lifeline Reform Order instituted substantial changes which impact consumer qualification for Lifeline, including: 47 CFR § 54.409 (Subscriber Eligibility Determination); 47 CFR § 54.410 (Annual Certifications by ETCs); 47 CFR § 54.416 (Record Keeping Requirements); and 47 CFR § 54.417 (Annual Reporting for ETCs that Receive Low-income Support). These regulations govern the prerequisite duties of an ETC seeking low income support from the USF.

 All current and future ETCs must meet the minimum standards set forth in the FCC's Lifeline Reform Orders. All minimum federal requirements of the FCC's Lifeline Reform Order not expressly discussed herein, are nonetheless applicable to ETC designation requests in Pennsylvania, this includes any subsequent developments in those federal requirements. TerraCom does offer and meet minimum standards for mobile voice and mobile broadband.35

 A. The FCC's Rules Governing Lifeline

 1. 47 CFR § 54.410

Subscriber Eligibility Determination and Certification

 The requirements for subscriber eligibility determination and certification requirements in Section 54.410 are the major requirements established to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. These requirements pertain to consumer eligibility factors for Lifeline and the corresponding obligation for verification of that eligibility. The FCC's further requirements for specific formats and process for accomplishing verification are additional requirements for ETC designation. This section further requires that every consumer's eligibility be recertified annually.

 In its 2016 Lifeline Order, the FCC established the National Verifier as the entity designated to make eligibility determinations and perform a variety of other functions necessary to enroll eligible subscribers or households into the Lifeline Program. As outlined in the 2016 Lifeline Order, ''[t]he Commission's key objectives for the National Verifier are to protect against and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse; to lower costs to the Fund and Lifeline providers through administrative efficiencies; and to better serve eligible beneficiaries by facilitating choice and improving the enrollment experience.''36 The National Verifier is a centralized system that determines whether subscribers are eligible for Lifeline. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) manages the National Verifier and its customer service department, the Lifeline Support Center. Service providers can help Lifeline consumers obtain an eligibility decision from the National Verifier through the service provider portal, or consumers can apply on their own by mail or online. USAC will determine if the applicant is eligible for Lifeline.

 The National Verifier was fully launched in Pennsylvania in March of 2019. Because the National Verifier has launched in Pennsylvania, it is the only means used for eligibility determination now and into the future. New and potential Lifeline consumers will receive their initial income-based eligibility determination by signing into CheckLifeline.org from any computer or mobile device to create an account, receive an eligibility decision, and use the list of service providers in their area to contact one to enroll. TerraCom must use the National Verifier to determine eligibility for its potential Lifeline customers given USAC's implementation of the National Verifier in Pennsylvania.

 The FCC modified Sections 54.410(b)(2)(ii), (c)(2)(ii), and (e) of its rules to clarify that, where use of the National Verifier determines the consumer's initial eligibility determination or recertification, the National Verifier is not required to deliver copies of those certifications to the ETC. The FCC determined that this amendment to the rules was consistent with its goals that the National Verifier ease burdens on Lifeline service providers while improving privacy and security for consumers applying to participate in the program.

 Further, this amendment brings Section 54.410 of the rules in line with the FCC's stated intent in the 2016 Lifeline Order that Lifeline providers would not be required to retain eligibility documentation for eligibility determinations made by the National Verifier as it presents unnecessary risk to the privacy and security of subscriber information. Thus, TerraCom is not required to retain documentation of eligibility criteria and provide subscribers with form eligibility certifications which provide notice to the subscribers of the Lifeline plan eligibility rules and requires that subscribers provide detailed personal and billing information.37

 For low-income consumers residing in group facilities or at an address shared by multiple households, the FCC's ''One Per-Household rule'' establishes that a ''household'' is defined as ''any individual or group of individuals who are living at the same address as one economic unit.'' An adult is any person eighteen years or older. 47 CFR § 54.400(h). Lifeline applicants may demonstrate at the time of enrollment that another Lifeline recipient resides at their address as part of a separate household.

 Finally, Section 54.410(f) of the federal rules provides for an annual recertification process by which each subscriber's eligibility for Lifeline service must be recertified. 47 CFR § 54.410(f). In Pennsylvania, service providers must use the National Verifier, which has assumed the responsibility for annual recertification where it has been launched in a state. Lifeline subscribers will be recertified either automatically through the National Verifier's state/federal data sources or receive a recertification request from USAC.

 TerraCom has been compliant with the FCC's rules regarding verification of consumer eligibility to participate in the Lifeline program in accordance with the applicable FCC rules. This includes the FCC's Lifeline Reform Orders' amendment to the minimum eligibility criteria for consumers to receive Lifeline support, the revision to the eligibility determination process using the National Verifier, and the modification of the annual recertification process as the National Verifier will also recertify subscribers each year. TerraCom certifies that it will continue to do so.38

 2. 47 CFR §§ 54.416, 54.417 and 54.422

Annual Certifications Recordkeeping and Reporting

 As previously noted, the FCC's rules contain certain annual certification, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements for ETCs participating in the Lifeline program. For one, a service provider must annually certify to USAC that it complies with all applicable federal Lifeline certification procedures to recertify the continued eligibility of all of its Lifeline subscribers.39 Consistent with our prior discussion related to Section 54.410(f), TerraCom's Lifeline subscribers will be recertified either automatically through the National Verifier's state/federal data sources, or receive a recertification request from USAC. In any event, TerraCom in its Petition represents that it will continue to comply with all FCC rules and regulations. Petition at p. 3.

 B. TerraCom Satisfies all the Federal Requirements Regarding Lifeline

 TerraCom is obligated to offer Lifeline-supported services throughout its designated service area and is obligated to comply with the rules and requirements of the federal Lifeline program. This obligation includes, inter alia, compliance with the FCC's rules for determining subscriber eligibility and annual recertification. Based upon our review of TerraCom's Petition, as supplemented, we determine that TerraCom satisfies all the applicable and relevant FCC rules and federal requirements regarding Lifeline.

III. Pennsylvania-Specific Requirements for ETC Designation

 In addition to the minimum federal standards above, through our ETC Guidelines, TerraCom must comply with Pennsylvania statutory law and Commission orders which govern Pennsylvania's Lifeline program.40 52 Pa. Code § 69.2501(b).

 A. Section 3019(f) Requirements

 Section 3019(f) of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. § 3019(f), and the Commission's PA Lifeline Order set forth the minimum Pennsylvania requirements for ETCs seeking low income support from the federal Lifeline Program. Section 3019(f) includes the following requirements for ETCs:

(1) All eligible telecommunications carriers certificated to provide local exchange telecommunications service shall provide Lifeline service to all eligible telecommunications customers who subscribe to such service.
(2) All eligible telecommunications customers who subscribe to Lifeline service shall be permitted to subscribe to any number of other eligible telecommunications carrier telecommunications services at the tariffed rates for such services.
(3) Whenever a prospective customer seeks to subscribe to local exchange telecommunications service from an eligible telecommunications carrier, the carrier shall explicitly advise the customer of the availability of Lifeline service and shall make reasonable efforts where appropriate to determine whether the customer qualifies for such service and, if so, whether the customer wishes to subscribe to the service.
(4) Eligible telecommunications carriers shall inform existing customers of the availability of Lifeline services twice annually by bill insert or message. The notice shall be conspicuous and shall provide appropriate eligibility, benefits and contact information for customers who wish to learn of the Lifeline service subscription requirements.
(5) Eligible telecommunications carriers shall provide the Department of Public Welfare41
with Lifeline service descriptions and subscription forms, contact telephone numbers, and a listing of the geographic area or areas they serve, for use by the Department of Public Welfare in providing the notifications required by this paragraph.

(6) No eligible telecommunications carrier shall be required to provide after the effective date of this section any new Lifeline service discount that is not fully subsidized by the Federal Universal Service fund.

 As an existing ETC, TerraCom certifies that it has and will continue to comply with each of the Section 3019(f) requirements. TerraCom will provide its prepaid Lifeline service to all eligible telecommunications customers who wish to subscribe to such service and who reside within TerraCom's service area. The Company will also agree to permit eligible customers to subscribe to any number of its other telecommunications services at the standard rates for such services. TerraCom has established protocols so that whenever a prospective customer in Pennsylvania seeks to subscribe to TerraCom's service, TerraCom will explicitly advise the customer of the availability of Lifeline service and shall meet federal requirements to determine whether the customer qualifies for such service and, if so, whether the customer wishes to subscribe to the service. Petition at p. 3.

 Furthermore, as an existing ETC, TerraCom has and will continue to: (1) inform existing customers of the availability of Lifeline service twice annually by bill insert, in compliance with Section 3019(f)(4); and (2) provide the Commonwealth's DHS with its Lifeline service descriptions and subscription forms, contact telephone numbers and a listing of the geographic area or areas it serves for use by DHS in providing the notification under Section 3019(f)(5). Petition at p. 3.

 B. Other Pennsylvania Requirements and Relevant Reporting Requirements42

 In addition to the Pennsylvania statutory requirements, the Commission has established Lifeline eligibility criteria, as well as procedures for certification and verification of a consumer's initial and continuing eligibility.43 Additionally, ETCs are further ordered to report to the Commission annual changes in Pennsylvania Lifeline enrollment.44 The Commission continues to reserve our right to impose separate state-specific requirements where necessary for the protection of the Commonwealth's consumers.

 1. Compliance with Eligibility Certification and Verification

 As a condition of its ETC designation, TerraCom must independently certify a Lifeline applicant's eligibility for service. Compliance with the Lifeline eligibility verification requirements are essential for prevention of waste, fraud and abuse. In particular, all ETCs designated by this Commission are required to take the necessary steps to ensure that Lifeline support paid by the federal USF to the carrier is remitted only for eligible low-income consumers or households.

 As stated above, with launch of NLAD in Pennsylvania, TerraCom must use the National Verifier when helping consumers apply to the Lifeline Program. In addition, TerraCom must include a public education component as part of its Lifeline outreach program to ensure that consumers are aware of and can participate in, the eligibility determination from the National Verifier.

 By our PA Lifeline Order we also required eligibility be confirmed annually and required:45

That LECs offering Lifeline. . .services are directed to recertify their Lifeline. . .customers at least annually in accordance with FCC procedures established at 47 C.F.R. § 54.410 (relating to certification and verification of consumer qualifications for Lifeline)[.]

Id. at 27.

 TerraCom is directed, as a condition of continuing its ETC designation, to ensure all of its Lifeline subscribers are recertified. As previously discussed, the National Verifier assumed the responsibility for annual recertification in Pennsylvania as of March 5, 2019, and TerraCom's Lifeline subscribers must be recertified either automatically through the National Verifier's state/federal data sources or receive a recertification request from USAC.

 Prior to recertification, however, we note that the FCC has adopted a reverification process that must occur to determine the continued eligibility of existing Lifeline subscribers. Reverification is the one-time process by the National Verifier to confirm that all existing Lifeline subscribers meet the eligibility standards. Reverification will be performed in groups based on subscribers' enrollment dates. Reverification will reset a subscriber's anniversary date. Subscribers will then be recertified one year after the date that they are successfully reverified.46 Thereafter, Lifeline subscribers will be recertified either automatically through the National Verifier's state/federal data sources or receive a recertification request from USAC.

 2. Compliance with the Tracking Report Order

 As a condition of ETC designation, ETCs are required under Pennsylvania law to report to the Commission annual changes in Lifeline enrollment, per our Tracking Report Order. TerraCom has and will continue to fully comply with the Commission's annual Lifeline Tracking Report requirement.

 Further, in order to ensure the Pennsylvania Lifeline program advances the Commonwealth's universal service policy, TerraCom is required to continue to provide to BCS a copy of its annual Lifeline Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Certification Form, FCC Form 555, that it files with USAC.47 The FCC Form 555 reports the results of the annual recertification process and includes data accuracy certifications.

 3. Consumer Lifeline-Related Complaints Processed by the Bureau of Consumer Services

 As a final condition of expanded designation, TerraCom agrees to continue to work with BCS to resolve informal complaints and to submit to Commission jurisdiction on formal complaints filed by TerraCom Lifeline customers on Lifeline-related issues.48 Specifically, BCS will address Lifeline-related issues which pertain to the consumers' rights under its Wireless Terms and Conditions of Service including: (1) eligibility disputes; (2) program offering issues; and (3) limited equipment-related issues.

 TerraCom has and will continue to provide notice to consumers in its Pennsylvania promotional materials as well as Pennsylvania-specific information on its web page of their right to contact BCS and of the Commission's contact information, if Lifeline service-related complaints brought to TerraCom's customer service division are not resolved. In addition, we expect TerraCom to continue to consult with BCS in preparation of Pennsylvania promotional materials to ensure that they further the delivery of voice and broadband services in a comprehensible fashion in Pennsylvania.

 Adherence to these Pennsylvania-specific requirements applicable to ETCs designated by the Commission will assure uniformity among Lifeline services offered by different ETCs, will provide consumer protection for low-income consumers, and will enable BCS to monitor Lifeline Program effectiveness in Pennsylvania.

 4. Change in Corporate Control and Renewed ETC Designation

 In the event of a change of or transfer in corporate control, as defined in the Commission's regulations at 52 Pa. Code § 63.322, TerraCom will have to petition this Commission for a renewal of its ETC status. Corporate changes of control may also be accompanied with changes in ETC status of a particular telecommunications entity with reference to the various and evolving support mechanisms of the federal USF. In this respect, this Commission is lawfully entitled to timely re-examine any such changes and ascertain whether a particular telecommunications entity should continue with an ETC designation. For this reason, we shall require TerraCom to file for renewal of its ETC designation at the same time it files any application for a change or transfer of control under our regulations.

 5. Provision of ETC Application, Annual Certification and Promotional Materials to the Bureau of Consumer Services

 All ETCs are required to supply the Commission's BCS with copies of subscriber Lifeline applications, annual certifications, promotional/advertising materials, and Lifeline-related customer notices for review for consistency with eligibility determination criteria and annual certification requirements as well as plain language requirements. Accordingly, as a condition of receiving expanded ETC designation, TerraCom is directed to continue to provide the Commission with copies of any and all reports submitted to USAC, and, upon request, provide BCS with copies of subscriber Lifeline applications, promotional/advertising materials, annual certifications reports, and Lifeline-related customer notices. Any failure of TerraCom to comply with these requirements will be a basis for revocation of its ETC designation or other enforcement action.

 C. TerraCom Wireless Satisfies All Pennsylvania-Specific Requirements for Lifeline

 In addition to the minimum federal standards mentioned above, all ETCs are required to comply with Pennsylvania law and Commission orders which govern Pennsylvania's Lifeline programs. 52 Pa. Code § 69.2501(b). As already determined above, and as an existing ETC, TerraCom commits to: (1) abide by the applicable eligibility certification and verification requirements set forth in the Commission's PA Lifeline Order; (2) abide by the applicable requirements set forth in the Commission's Tracking Report Order; and (3) have consumer Lifeline-related complaints which are unresolved by TerraCom's customer service, handled by BCS as appropriate and, if not, be resolved through formal or informal Commission processes. Petition at p. 3.

Conclusion

 In consideration of TerraCom's Petition as supplemented, we conclude TerraCom satisfies all federal and Pennsylvania-specific requirements for expansion of its ETC designation. As an ETC, TerraCom must meet the minimum standards set forth in the FCC's Lifeline Reform Orders, reporting and performance metrics set forth in the USF/ICC Transformation Order, and all related regulations. Further, in Pennsylvania, TerraCom must satisfy the Commission's requirements in the Public Utility Code, our ETC Guidelines, and all related orders. Granting TerraCom's ETC expansion request is in accord with Section 214 of the Act, the FCC's regulations and orders related to ETC designation, Section 3019(f) of the Public Utility Code, and the Commissions orders on ETC designation. 47 U.S.C. § 214; 47 CFR §§ 54.201, et seq.; and 66 Pa.C.S. § 3019(f); Therefore,

It Is Ordered That:

 1. The Petition of YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, for Expansion of its Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Designation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is granted, subject to the terms and conditions set forth in this order.

 2. The Commission hereby approves YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom's Petition for Expansion of its Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Designation to provide Lifeline-only ETC service throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 3. The FCC rules regarding the redefinition process as it relates to YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom are inapplicable as set forth in this Order.

 4. YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, shall provide the Bureau of Consumer Services with copies of subscriber Lifeline applications and annual certification and promotional materials for review for consistency with eligibility determination criteria and annual certification requirements.

 5. YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, shall comply with the FCC's reverification procedures by using the National Verifier.

 6. YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, shall continue to provide notice to consumers in its Pennsylvania promotional materials as well as Pennsylvania-specific information on its web page of their right to contact BCs and of the Commission's contact information if Lifeline service-related complaints brought to TerraCom are not resolved. We also expect TerraCom to continue to consult with BCS in preparation of Pennsylvania promotional materials.

 7. The failure of YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, to comply with any of the provisions of this Order may result in revocation of its ETC designation(s) for purposes of receiving federal Universal Service Fund support and the federal Lifeline support or be subject to further Commission process.

 8. YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, shall petition this Commission for any future change to the wireless Lifeline service offerings provided through this ETC designation as described herein which represents a limitation or reduction of Lifeline services/equipment provided free of charge, and shall provide notice to this Commission of any addition, change or new offering which is in addition to the wireless Lifeline offering.

 9. YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom, shall petition this Commission for renewal of its Eligible Telecommunications Carrier status at the same time it files any application for a change or transfer of control as defined at 52 Pa. Code § 63.322.

 10. The Secretary shall serve a copy of this Order on YourTel America, Inc. d/b/a TerraCom, on the Office of Consumer Advocate, and the Office of Small Business Advocate.

 11. A copy of this Order be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

 12. This docket be marked closed.

ROSEMARY CHIAVETTA, 
Secretary

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 19-882. Filed for public inspection June 7, 2019, 9:00 a.m.]

_______

1  47 U.S.C. 214(e).

2  47 CFR §§ 54.101; 54.201; 54.203; 54.205—54.209; 54.410; 54.416; 54.417 and 54.422.

3  66 Pa.C.S. § 3019(f).

4  See Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, CC Docket No. 96-45, Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 877 (1997).

5  Virginia Cellular, LLC Petition for Designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Memorandum Opinion and Order, CC Docket 96-45, 19 FCC Rcd 1563 (2004) (Virginia Cellular ETC Designation Order); Highland Cellular, Inc. Petition for Designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Memorandum Opinion and Order, CC Docket 96-45, 19 FCC Rcd 6422 (2004) (Highland Cellular ETC Designation Order).

6  Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, et al., Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 6656 (2012) (2012 Lifeline Reform Order or Lifeline FNPRM).

7  At the current time, federal rules limit the $9.25 Lifeline support to either voice or broadband service. The Lifeline subscriber's $9.25 support is applicable to whatever service a Lifeline consumer may choose to purchase but subscribers cannot receive the $9.25 support separately for each service. However, Lifeline also supports broadband-voice bundles so consumers choosing a bundled package containing voice and broadband service can apply the $9.25 support to that bundle.

8  Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, and Memorandum Opinion and Order, 30 FCC Rcd 7818 (2015) (2015 Lifeline FNPRM); Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., Third Report and Order, Further Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration, 31 FCC Rcd 3962, 4038, para. 211 (2016) (2016 Lifeline Order); Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Notice of Inquiry, 32 FCC Rcd 10475 (2017), vacated and remanded, National Lifeline Association et al. v. FCC, Docket Nos. 18-1026, Order issued February 1, 2019 (D.C. Cir. 2019) (2017 Lifeline NPRM and NOI) (collectively Lifeline Reform Orders).

9  Petition of YourTel America, Inc., for Limited Designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier for the Purpose of Offering of Offering Lifeline and Link and Link Up Service, Docket No. P-2011-2226044, (Order entered October 14, 2011) (Designation Order).

10  Designation Order p. 20.

11  Petition of YourTel America, Inc., d/b/a TerraCom to Maintain its ETC Status Post-Corporate Parent Change of Ownership, Docket No. P-2011-2226044. (Waiver Order).

12  Waiver Order, Ordering Paragraph No. 1, p. 6.

13  YourTel 2018 Petition p. 2.

14  YourTel notified the Commission of changes to its Lifeline offerings by letters dated February 26, 2013, April 3, 2013, September 10, 2014, October 29, 2015 and December 2, 2016. TerraCom notified the Commission of changes to its Lifeline offerings by letters dated June 26, 2017, November 6, 2017 and November 27, 2018.

15  Petition at p. 4.

16  See Petition of Virgin Mobile USA, L.P. for Limited Designation as an ETC for the Purpose of Offering Lifeline Service, Docket No. P-2010-2155915 (Order Entered December 22, 2010). (Virgin Mobile).

17  47 U.S.C. § 153(10).

18  See Petition at p. 3.

19  See 47 U.S.C. § 4.102(a)(1).

20  See e.g., Farmers Cellular, Inc. 18 FCC Rcd 3848, 3852 (2003); Pine Belt Cellular, Inc. and Pine Belt PCS, Inc., 17 FCC Rcd 9589, 9593 (2002); Western Wireless Corp., Petition for Designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier in the State of Wyoming, 16 FCC Rcd 48, 52 (2000).

21  47 CFR § 54.408(b)(2)(D)(3)(a)(6).

22  See Petition at p. 4.

23  See YourTel's original petition p. 9.

24  47 CFR §§ 54.101(a)(2) and (c).

25  See https://www.terracomwireless.com/lifeline-free-plans.php. Visited May 16, 2019.

26  YourTel most recently notified the Commission of changes to its Lifeline offerings in a letter dated November 27, 2018.

27  YourTel notified the Commission of changes to its Lifeline offerings by letters dated February 26, 2013, April 3, 2013, September 10, 2014, October 29, 2015 and December 2, 2016. TerraCom notified the Commission of changes to its Lifeline offerings by letters dated June 26, 2017, November 6, 2017, and November 27, 2018.

28  See Advantage Cellular ETC Designation Order at para. 18; Highland Cellular ETC Designation Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 6424, para. 4; Virginia Cellular ETC Designation Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 1565. para. 4.

29  See Virginia Cellular ETC Designation Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 1569, para. 12.

30  See Highland Cellular ETC Designation Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 6424, para. 4; Virginia Cellular ETC Designation Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 1565, para. 4.

31  See generally, In the Matter of Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Support et al. 28 FCC Rcd. 4859 (2013).

32  See generally, Connect America Fund et al., Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 31 FCC Rcd 5949. 6005-09, paras. 157—168 (2016) (Phase II Auction Order).

33  See 47 CFR § 1.2002.

34  TerraCom response to Staff request, May 9, 2019.

35  See http://www.puc.pa.gov/Telecom/pdf/ETC_Wireless_Lifeline_Providers.pdf.

36  2016 Lifeline Order, 31 FCC Rcd at 4007, para. 128.

37  47 CFR § 54.410(c) and (d).

38  Petition at p. 5.

39  47 CFR § 54.416.

40  Because the FCC's Lifeline Reform Order discontinued the Link-Up support from the federal USF, all references to Link-Up programs are now inapplicable.

41  The Department of Public Welfare is now known as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).

42  We note that many Pennsylvania-specific requirements set forth in our PA Lifeline Order such as the requirements for certification and verification of a customer's initial and continued eligibility for Lifeline services have been impacted by Lifeline developments at the federal level. For example, the creation of the NLAD at 47 CFR § 54.404, has led to changes in the Pennsylvania-specific requirements for eligibility verification.

43  In Re: Lifeline and Link-up Programs, Docket No. M-00051871 (Order entered May 23, 2005) (PA Lifeline Order).

44  Re: Section 3015(f) Review Regarding Lifeline Tracking Report, Accident Report, and Services Outage Report, 100 Pa. P.U.C. 553 (Dec. 30, 2005) (Tracking Report Order).

45  Both Pennsylvania and the FCC eliminated the Lifeline's subscriber ability to self-certify annually.

46  See generally PA Lifeline Order and 47 CFR § 54.410.

47  As previously stated in the discussion of Section 54.410 of the FCC regulations, ETCs designated in Pennsylvania must provide our BCS copies of the reports submitted to USAC for purposes of low-income USF support, these reports include, among others, those listed in our PA Lifeline and Tracking Report Orders.

48  BCS has TerraCom's current contact information for TerraCom staff to resolve Lifeline-related issues.



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