Determined to protect the integrity of the Lifeline program, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today accepted Associated Telecommunications Management Services, LLC’s (ATMS) settlement offer to resolve apparent violations of Florida Statutes and Commission rules in providing Lifeline service.
The Lifeline Assistance and Link-Up programs make telephone service more affordable for low-income households throughout the country. Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETC) receiving low-income support from the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) to offer these programs must comply with federal and state regulations regarding universal service. In Florida, there are over 640,000 Lifeline customers.
A recent PSC staff investigation uncovered an unusual growth in USF disbursements for some ATMS Florida companies. In Florida, American Dial Tone, Inc., an ATMS company, received approximately $6.2 million in USF funds. Staff’s investigation also indicated from multiple anonymous sources that ATMS’ Florida subsidiaries allegedly failed to obtain certification of Lifeline applicants, misrepresented customer enrollments when claiming reimbursement, and improperly shared customer information.
As part of the approved Settlement Agreement, ATMS will:
Pay $4 million to Florida’s General Revenue Fund, in $250,000 quarterly installments, with the chance to suspend $2 million of payments, if demonstrated compliance with all Agreement terms met.
ATMS companies presently operating in Florida include American Dial Tone, Inc.; Bellerud Communications, LLC; LifeConnex Telecom, LLC; and All American Telecom, Inc.
The PSC facilitates safe and reliable utility services at fair prices for Florida's consumers. Primary responsibilities include setting fair rates, encouraging competition, and monitoring for safety and reliability.
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