Although the Oklahoma Corporation Commission amended its Lifeline rules on March 14, 2013, they did not become effective until yesterday, July 11. The new rules implement a number of changes, many of which are focused on marketing Lifeline services from tents and vehicles, as well as imposing a minimum number of minutes (1,000 on Tribal lands, 500 elsewhere).
The new rules include:
1. Requiring ETCs to provide access to their own customer service departments by dialing 611 from the wireless handset or to have a toll free number for contacting the ETC programmed in the phone and clearly identified.
2. New restrictions on outdoor mobile locations (unless waiver is obtained from the Director of the Public Utility Division (“PUD”))
a) Requiring at least two banners identifying the name of the ETC, in print that is readable from at least 30 feet away;
b) The banners must be at least 3 foot by 5 foot in size, and the identification of the ETC takes up at least 50 percent of the banner;
c) Employees must wear a shirt that has the name of the ETC on it permanently affixed to the shirt;
d) The available terms, conditions and rates for the Lifeline product(s) must be prominently posted at the location where the marketing is taking place;
e) The marketer must have written permission from either the owner of the property where the marketing is taking place or from the individual responsible for the property;
f) The marketer must have all required city and county licenses necessary for selling a service at that location;
g) The marketing must be done in a manner that it does not create a traffic hazard or distraction;
h) Marketing may only be done from a tent of at least 10 foot x 10 foot in size or from an enclosed trailer or panel truck that has its name permanently affixed on the truck or trailer in letters that are at least 18 inches in height;
i) ETCs must provide staff a list of locations by email where mobile marketing is taking place, including the date, time and location, at least two weeks prior to the mobile marketing taking place or maintain an active phone number the Commission can call or a web site the public can view, that identifies all mobile marketing locations and times for at least the following three days; (unless a waiver is obtained from the PUD Director);
3. Any wireless handset provided in conjunction with the Lifeline Service must clearly and permanently identify the provider of the service.
4. An approved Lifeline tariff may not be modified without submitting the modification to the PUD Director at least 15 days prior to the effective date of the proposed change.
5. Any Lifeline plan must include a minimum of 1,000 minutes of local voice use on Tribal Land, or 500 minutes of local voice usage on Non-Tribal Land, or unlimited domestic calling, to be considered in the public interest.
6. ETCs must utilize a third party verification system that has been approved by the PUD Director, to verify the customer’s identity and address, or obtain a waiver.
7. ETCs must retain a copy of the signed application for Lifeline Service, and any recertification information for five (5) years.
8. ETCs must maintain a database sufficient to identify any duplicates among all companies associated with the ETC.
9. All marketing efforts must clearly identify the ETC that is actually providing the Lifeline Service.
10. Violations of the marketing rules may result in a minimum of a 30 days suspension of the ETC’s ability to sign up new customers.