Florida was one of two states personally commended by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski for formidable efforts to identify and eliminate fraud in the Lifeline Assistance program, the discounted telephone service benefitting low-income consumers.
In his December 12 letter, Chairman Genachowski praised the states’ efforts to end any potential fraud in the Universal Service Fund (USF), specifically recognizing actions by Florida and Wisconsin, and also urged state commissions to join the FCC’s national effort “to reform the Lifeline program…and to take swift and strong action when necessary to protect the program.”
Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Ronald Brisé said, “The PSC continues its work with Florida’s telecommunications companies to ensure that consumers enrolling in Lifeline are not already receiving the service from another provider. Avoiding duplicative services helps the Lifeline program benefit even more eligible consumers.”
PSC Commissioner Art Graham, who brought renewed awareness to Florida’s large USF contributions, said, “I’m pleased that Florida is recognized as a national leader in eliminating Lifeline fraud. More residents needing the program can be helped when USF distribution is fair and legal.”
Eligible Telecommunications Carriers receiving funds from the federal USF to offer the Lifeline programs must comply with federal and state regulations regarding universal service. In 2011, the Commission took action against four companies for apparent violations of Florida Statutes and Commission rules in providing Lifeline service.
The federal Lifeline Assistance program offers customers who participate in certain public assistance programs a basic telephone service discount of at least $13.50 per month, or $162 per year. Link-Up provides a 50 percent reduction in the telephone service installation charge, up to a maximum of $30, for qualifying households that do not currently have telephone service.
As of June 30, 2011, more than 943,000 eligible Florida telecommunications customers participated in the Lifeline program.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.
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