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Telecom Alert: TracFone Settles for $23.5 Million; FCC Extends BDC Waiver; FCC Extends Rip-and-Replace Deadlines; FCC Warns Nine Pirate Radio Operators [Vol. XX, Issue 49]

TracFone Settles Lifeline and EBB Investigation for $23.5 Million

Last week, TracFone Wireless (“TracFone”), a subsidiary of Verizon, settled Enforcement Bureau investigations into violations of the FCC’s Lifeline and Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) programs. TracFone self-identified and reported the potential violations and agreed to a $17,487,000 civil penalty and a $6,013,000 fine to resolve a 2020 Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) for other Lifeline violations.  TracFone’s internal systems improperly qualified Lifeline usage and improperly claimed customers who had not used either Lifeline or EBB in a 30-day period.  Additionally, TracFone field enrollment representatives used falsified tax documents to enroll subscribers and were paid commission-based compensation, in violation of the FCC’s rules.  TracFone also must implement a compliance plan to ensure future compliance with Lifeline program rules.  For more information, please contact Casey Lide (; 202.434.4186).

FCC Extends BDC PE Certification Waiver

The FCC has extended a 2022 waiver of the professional engineer (“PE”) certification requirement for providers’ biannual Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) filings (Vol. XIX, Issue 28).  The waiver allows certification from someone with “(i) a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree in electrical engineering, electronic technology, or another similar technical discipline, and at least seven years of relevant experience in broadband network design and/or performance; or (ii) specialized training relevant to broadband network engineering and design, deployment, and/or performance, and at least ten years of relevant experience in broadband network engineering, design, and/or performance.” The waiver has been extended for three additional filing periods: data as of December 31, 2023, June 30, 2024, and December 31, 2024.  For more information, please contact Sean Stokes (; 202.434.4193).

FCC Extends Rip-and-Replace Deadlines for Triangle

The FCC granted petitions filed by Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association Inc. (“Triangle Telephone”) and Triangle Communication System, Inc. (“Triangle Communication”) to extend their deadlines to remove communications equipment and services that are deemed to pose a national security risk under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program (the “Program”).  Triangle Telephone now has until May 29, 2024, and Triangle Communication until July 13, 2024, to comply with the rules.  Both Triangle Telephone and Triangle Communication cited supply chain issues, labor shortages, and weather conditions in their petitions for extension.  Providers have a deadline to complete their obligations under the Program one year after receiving payment.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (; 202.434.4178).

FCC Warns Nine Pirate Radio Operators

The FCC sent nine Notices of Illegal Pirate Radio Broadcasting to landowners in Boston, alleging violations of the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act (“PIRATE Act”).  The PIRATE Act seeks to prevent the unauthorized transmission of radio signals on frequencies in or adjacent to the AM and FM bands, which can cause interference to public safety emergency alert messages.  The Notices formally notify landowners of the illegal activity occurring on their property and their potential liability for it, and demand proof that the illegal broadcasting has ceased.  The FCC may penalize violations at $115,802 per day with a maximum of $2,316,034.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (; 202.434.4239).

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