PSC: Wisconsin leading nation, rooting out fraud in Universal Service Fund

Contact: Kristin Ruesch, (608) 266-9600, [email protected]

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Commends Efforts

Madison, Wis…Wisconsin’s efforts to identify and eliminate fraud in the Lifeline program, which is subsidized by the Universal Service Fund, were highlighted in a letter to State Commissioners yesterday by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski.

In the December 12, 2011 letter, Genachowski commended Wisconsin for taking action to identify and eliminate fraud in the Lifeline program and encouraged other states to do the same.

“The state of Wisconsin has set an example for the nation by taking decisive steps to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse,” said Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Chairperson Phil Montgomery. “I applaud the Federal Communications Commission for encouraging other states to look to Wisconsin’s leadership to put an end to any potential fraud in the Universal Service Fund.”

Earlier this month, Illinois-based Midwestern Telecommunications, Inc. (MTI) had its designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier provisionally revoked, and its certificate to operate in Wisconsin is now being investigated after concerns about fraud were identified by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

MTI received reimbursement through the federal Universal Service Fund for customers who may not have been eligible. All telecommunications customers pay a fee on their monthly bills to contribute to the Universal Service Fund.

The FCC has also issued an Enforcement Advisory highlighting the need for carriers to be vigilant about following the Commission’s rules in order to protect the USF against waste and abuse. Chairman Genachowski asked all Commissioners to distribute the Advisory to state and local partners to help spread the word that Lifeline-supported services are only available to qualifying low-income customers.