47 CFR § 54.400 - Terms and definitions.

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§ 54.400 Terms and definitions.

As used in this subpart, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

(a) Qualifying low-income consumer. A “qualifying low-income consumer” is a consumer who meets the qualifications for Lifeline, as specified in § 54.409.

(b) Toll blocking service. “Toll blocking service” is a service provided by an eligible telecommunications carrier that lets subscribers elect not to allow the completion of outgoing toll calls from their telecommunications channel.

(c) Toll control service. “Toll control service” is a service provided by an eligible telecommunications carrier that allows subscribers to specify a certain amount of toll usage that may be incurred on their telecommunications channel per month or per billing cycle.

(d) Toll limitation service. “Toll limitation service” denotes either toll blocking service or toll control service for eligible telecommunications carriers that are incapable of providing both services. For eligible telecommunications carriers that are capable of providing both services, “toll limitation service” denotes both toll blocking service and toll control service.

(e) Eligible resident of Tribal lands. An “eligible resident of Tribal lands” is a “qualifying low-income consumer,” as defined in paragraph (a) of this section, living on Tribal lands. For purposes of this subpart, “Tribal lands” include any federally recognized Indian tribe's reservation, pueblo, or colony, including former reservations in Oklahoma; Alaska Native regions established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688); Indian allotments; Hawaiian Home Lands—areas held in trust for Native Hawaiians by the state of Hawaii, pursuant to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920 July 9, 1921, 42 Stat. 108, et. seq., as amended; and any land designated as such by the Commission for purposes of this subpart pursuant to the designation process in § 54.412.

(f) Income. “Income” means gross income as defined under section 61 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 61, for all members of the household. This means all income actually received by all members of the household from whatever source derived, unless specifically excluded by the Internal Revenue Code, Part III of Title 26, 26 U.S.C. 101 et seq.

(g) Duplicative support. “Duplicative support” exists when a Lifeline subscriber is receiving two or more Lifeline services concurrently or two or more subscribers in a household are receiving Lifeline services or Tribal Link Up support concurrently.

(h) Household. A “household” is any individual or group of individuals who are living together at the same address as one economic unit. A household may include related and unrelated persons. An “economic unit” consists of all adult individuals contributing to and sharing in the income and expenses of a household. An adult is any person eighteen years or older. If an adult has no or minimal income, and lives with someone who provides financial support to him/her, both people shall be considered part of the same household. Children under the age of eighteen living with their parents or guardians are considered to be part of the same household as their parents or guardians.

(i) National Lifeline Accountability Database or Database. The “National Lifeline Accountability Database” or “Database” is an electronic system, with associated functions, processes, policies and procedures, to facilitate the detection and elimination of duplicative support, as directed by the Commission.

(j) Qualifying assistance program. A “qualifying assistance program” means any of the federal or Tribal assistance programs the participation in which, pursuant to § 54.409(a) or (b), qualifies a consumer for Lifeline service, including Medicaid; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Supplemental Security Income; Federal Public Housing Assistance; Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit; Bureau of Indian Affairs general assistance; Tribally administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF); Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard); or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).

(k) Direct service. As used in this subpart, direct service means the provision of service directly to the qualifying low-income consumer.

(l) Broadband Internet access service. “Broadband Internet access service” is defined as a mass-market retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data 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.

(m) Voice telephony service. “Voice telephony service” is defined as voice grade access to the public switched network or its functional equivalent; minutes of use for local service provided at no additional charge to end users; access to the emergency services provided by local government or other public safety organizations, such as 911 and enhanced 911, to the extent the local government in an eligible carrier's service area has implemented 911 or enhanced 911 systems; and toll limitation services to qualifying low-income consumers as provided in subpart E of this part.

(n) Supported service. Voice telephony service is the supported service for the Lifeline program.

(o) National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier. The “National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier” or “National Verifier” is an electronic and manual system with associated functions, processes, policies and procedures, to facilitate the determination of consumer eligibility for the Lifeline program, as directed by the Commission.

(p) Enrollment representatives. An employee, agent, contractor, or subcontractor, acting on behalf of an eligible telecommunications carrier or third-party entity, who directly or indirectly provides information to the Universal Service Administrative Company or a state entity administering the Lifeline Program for the purpose of eligibility verification, enrollment, recertification, subscriber personal information updates, benefit transfers, or de-enrollment.

(q) Survivor. “Survivor” has the meaning given such term at 47 CFR 64.6400(m).

(r) Emergency communications support. “Emergency communications support” means support received through the Lifeline program by qualifying survivors pursuant to the Safe Connections Act of 2022, Public Law 117–223.

(s) Financial hardship. A survivor is suffering from “financial hardship” when the survivor's household satisfies the requirements detailed at § 54.409(a)(1) or (2) or is a household in which—

(1) The household's income as defined in paragraph (f) of this section is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of that size;

(2) At least one member of the household has applied for and been approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced price lunch program under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.) or the school breakfast program under section 4 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1773), or at least one member of the household is enrolled in a school or school district that participates in the Community Eligibility Provision (42 U.S.C. 1759a);

(3) At least one member of the household has received a Federal Pell Grant under section 401 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a) in the current award year, if such award is verifiable through the National Verifier or National Lifeline Accountability Database or the participating provider verifies eligibility under § 54.1806(a)(2); and

(4) At least one member of the household receives assistance through the special supplemental nutritional program for women, infants and children established by section 17 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1996 (42 U.S.C. 1786).

[77 FR 12966, Mar. 2, 2012, as amended at 80 FR 40935, July 14, 2015; 81 FR 33089, May 24, 2016; 84 FR 71327, Dec. 27, 2019; 86 FR 1021, Jan.7, 2021; 88 FR 84446, Dec. 5, 2023]