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Icon Telecom to pull out of low-income Lifeline phone program

In filings before state and federal regulators, Icon Telecom said it will stop participating in the Lifeline program that provides phone subsidies for low-income households. Icon was named in an enforcement action filed in August by staff at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
by Paul Monies Modified: September 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm •  Published: September 17, 2013

Icon is named in several pending actions before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, including an enforcement action and a “show cause” action for further information. It also applied last year for monthly reimbursements of almost $393,000 from the Oklahoma Lifeline fund.

Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said those other cases remain open.

The Corporation Commission's public utility division filed an enforcement action against Icon in August, listing more than 40,900 possible violations for not adequately verifying customer eligibility under federal Lifeline rules. Only one Lifeline service is allowed for each household. The enforcement action said a review of Icon's customer lists showed numerous customers with the same post office boxes, dates of birth or mailing addresses.

Icon's attorney, George Makohin, argued last week in a hearing for dismissal that the commission didn't have jurisdiction to enforce federal Lifeline rules.

Icon received more than $25.7 million in federal Lifeline reimbursements in 2012, according to data from the Universal Service Administrative Co.

Both the state and federal Lifeline programs are funded from surcharges on telephone customer bills. The federal program offers eligible phone companies up to $34 per subscriber in reimbursements; the state program offers $1.85 per subscriber in reimbursements.

by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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