The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
Just before it shut down on Tuesday, the FCC announced it has proposed more than $14.4 million in forfeitures against five wireless Lifeline service providers who apparently violated the FCC’s Lifeline rules. The FCC said that the violations involve “thousands of consumers” that had more than one Lifeline subscription from the same provider, resulting in duplicative support requests and payments. The Notices of Apparent Liability (NALs) were issued against: Icon Telecom, Inc. ($4,806,381); TracFone Wireless, Inc. ($4,573,376); Assist Wireless, LLC ($2,203,977); Easy Telephone Services d/b/a/ Easy Wireless ($1,586,545); and UTPhone, Inc. ($1,234,456). The proposed penalties are in addition to recovery of universal service funds paid to the carriers for duplicative Lifeline service. The NALs establish a new forfeiture framework for Lifeline violations.
The FCC also sought comment on a proposed Lifeline Biennial Audit Plan. The plan contains uniform procedures for independent biennial audits of carriers receiving $5 million annually or more from the low-income universal service support program. Watch for a TMI Bulletin.
The FCC also announced it had resolved two investigations into possible violations of its Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution and federal reporting rules, entering into significant settlements with Lightyear Network Solutions, LLC and Open Access Acquisition LLC totaling nearly $1.8 million. Both companies agreed to appoint Compliance Officers and develop compliance plans that include development of a compliance manual, ongoing employee training. They also will be required to file compliance reports with the FCC for 36 months and report any non-compliance.