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Updated March 27, 2014
Q1: Is there any cost for eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs), third party vendors, or state administrators to access the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), either during testing or live production?
A1: No. There is no cost to an ETC, third party vendor, or state administrator to access NLAD. The cost to administer NLAD is included in USAC's administrative costs.
Q2: What are the first five states that are going into production?
A2: The first five states are Arkansas, Maryland, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Washington.
Q3: What are the states that have opted out of using NLAD?
A3: The states that have opted out of using the NLAD system are Puerto Rico, Texas, Oregon, California, and Vermont.
Q4: If a state is "opt-out," will the state administrator (OPUC) be submitting the data instead? How will potential duplicates be caught if not all states participate in NLAD?
A4: States may opt out of NLAD if they submit a certification showing that they have a state-wide system in place to detect, eliminate, and prevent duplicate Lifeline Program claims that is at least as robust as what the FCC has planned for the national database. NLAD will not accept data from opt-out states.
Q5: Is NLAD the same as the USAC recertification database and will NLAD be used for the recertification?
A5: No. NLAD is not the same as the USAC recertification database, and USAC does not have a recertification database. In future years, USAC anticipates that it will use NLAD to provide information for the annual recertification.
Q6: If we already provided our updated Lifeline Program subscriber information to USAC for IDV, is there any need to complete this new NLAD requirement?
A6: NLAD collects different information than our current In-depth Data Validation (IDV) process. NLAD has its own input template with more columns to collect additional subscriber information, such as last four digits of social security number and date of birth. Unless the ETC operates in a state that has opted out of NLAD, the ETC is required to submit its subscriber data to NLAD with all required fields.
Q7: When do ETCs have to register to use the database?
A7: ETCs will be notified by a Public Notice from the FCC later this year, and ETCs must provide subscriber data within 60 days of the Public Notice for use in the NLAD System. (See para. 190 of the Lifeline Reform Order (FCC 12-11)).
Q8: When can an ETC appeal a rejection from NLAD?
A8: ETCs will receive a resolution ID when a record is rejected from NLAD. ETCs will be able to appeal the rejection with the resolution ID online or by calling the NLAD customer support line.
Q9: Will ETCs still report Lifeline Program subscribers to USAC or will the information be pulled from the database?
A9: Yes. ETCs will still be required to submit a monthly FCC Form 497 to claim Lifeline Program support.
Q10: Should subscribers contact USAC to see if they are eligible for the Lifeline Program?
A10: Consumers must contact their telecommunications carrier to determine eligibility. USAC cannot help a consumer with these questions.
Q11: Can a child receive a Lifeline Program benefit?
A11: All subscribers must be at least 18 years old.
Q12: If a subscriber receives Lifeline Program support and a member of their family (residing at same address) applies for the Lifeline Program through a different carrier, will they receive support?
A12: Lifeline Program eligibility is limited to one per household. If they are separate economic households, they need to complete an Independent Economic Household (IEH) form in order to receive support.
Q13: Who would be the NLAD Admin for our company - the 497 Officer or the third-party company?
A13: The 497 Officer must create the NLAD Admin account. The 497 Officer can designate themselves or another staff member to be the NLAD Admin. The NLAD Admin manages the subscriber data and has the ability to create sub accounts that will have limited permissions and functionalities.
Q14: We have multiple vendors supporting the Lifeline Program. Can we share API and Web Portal login credentials between vendors?
A14: In production, your 497 Officer will be able to create an NLAD Admin account. That NLAD Admin account will be able to create sub-accounts. You will not be "sharing accounts" but rather designating new sub-accounts to your staff or vendors. Only one API account is permitted per ETC.
Q15: How do I log into NLAD?
A15: Your 497 Officer will be able to log into NLAD using their E-File username and password. These are the same credentials they would use to login to submit the FCC Form 497 online. If you are having trouble, first make sure you are using a supported browser (Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, and Mozilla Firefox) and that compatibility mode is turned off in your browser. If your credentials are not working, try signing into E-File. If you are not able to log into E-File, have your FCC Form 498 General Contact reset your password. If you continue to have trouble logging in, contact NLAD Customer Support at (888) 641-8722.
Q16: How do I create an NLAD ETC Admin account?
A16: The 497 Officer logs into NLAD and establishes the NLAD ETC Admin account. First, they should search for the individual by email address to see if they are already in the system. If the user already exists in NLAD, their information will populate. If the user does not exist in NLAD, the 497 Officer will be able to input the individual's information and fill in the required fields under "ETC Information." The NLAD ETC Admin's information may not show up on the dashboard at first. Once the new NLAD ETC Admin logs in, creates a password, and activates their account, their information should populate for the 497 Officer.
Q17: How do I create subaccounts?
A17: Your NLAD ETC Admin will log into NLAD and establish the subaccounts. Select the "Create NLAD Subaccount" option from the left menu. You will be able to create a subaccount by entering the email address of the user you would like to designate. You will then determine whether the subaccount will have permissions as an NLAD ETC Analyst or NLAD ETC Operations. Once you click "Submit," the subaccount will be created.
Q18: What is the difference between an operations and analyst subaccount?
A18: An NLAD ETC Analyst account can perform subscriber transactions, query subscriber data, create and view reports, and submit resolution requests. An NLAD ETC Operations account can only query subscriber data, create and view reports, and submit resolution requests.
Q19: How do I change a subaccount role from operations to analyst and vice-versa?
A19: A subaccount role cannot be edited once it has been created. To change the subaccount role for a user, the subaccount must be deactivated. The deactivation functionality is only available to the NLAD ETC Admin through the "Manage NLAD Subaccounts" option on the left menu. Once the account has been deactivated, the NLAD ETC Admin will create a new account.
Q20: What is the ETC Admin? I thought it was the NLAD Admin?
A20: The ETC Admin is the same as the NLAD Admin. The two titles are interchangeable. The role is called the NLAD ETC Administrator.
Q21: We have not been collecting and capturing the date of birth for Lifeline Program subscribers. Is it correct that we have until the end of 2013 to correct our records?
A21: ETCs must submit the last four digits of the Social Security Number and the date of birth for each subscriber that is to be entered in the database (see 47 C.F.R. Section 54.404(b)(6) and 54.410(d)(2)). ETCs are required to collect the additional data for existing customers either before or during the 2012 annual recertification process, as stated in footnote 502 of the Lifeline Reform and Modernization Order. If ETCs did not collect the information at that time, they should do so immediately.
Q22: Our state has a large minority community. Many in the community do not have a social security number (SSN) and do not receive Tribal support. Can we substitute a SSN with a benefit case number?
A22: No, the FCC Lifeline Reform Order requires Lifeline Program subscribers to provide the last 4 digits of the SSN or Tribal ID number. A benefit case number will cannot be accepted.
Q23: Can we manually enter subscribers into NLAD? Or do we have to submit them in batches using a .csv file?
A23: In the initial load, NLAD only accepts subscriber data in a .csv batch file. Once in production, you can key the subscriber information into the system using the NLAD Access Portal.
Q24: What will happen if the file format is incorrect?
A24: If the file format is incorrect, the whole file will be rejected. For more information, review the NLAD file validation rules.
Q25: Should optional items be a zero, 1, or left blank?
A25: If you have nothing to add for an optional field, the field should be left blank.
Q26: Does the NLAD response file include successful rows and can you provide an example?
A26: The successful accepted transactions are not included in the response/error files. The rejected rows sample file is available on the NLAD page.
Q27: I have read that ETCs must provide first name, last name, date of birth, and the last 4 digits of the BQP's social security number. However I have also read that the BQP's information is optional. Is it optional information?
A27: Yes. Benefit Qualifying Person's (BQP) fields are not required to be populated. These fields are optional. If a carrier chooses to complete any of optional information, it must also include the BQP's last name.
Q28: Is the Tribal ID required if the "Tribal Address Flag" is used?
A28: A Tribal ID is required if the last four digits of a social security number is not provided. The Tribal ID is not related to the "Tribal Address Flag." The "Tribal Address Flag" is used when the ETC has verified that the subscriber's resident address is on Tribal land (address cannot be recognized by the US postal service).
Q29: In one of the NLAD Workshop webinars it was stated that if "linkUpServiceDate" has a value, then on the file the "lifelineTribalBenefitFlag" must be set to 1. If I enter the "linkUpServiceDate" and we do not have Tribal support, why would we enter 1 when that indicates a carrier is claiming Lifeline Program Tribal support?
A29: With the 2012 Lifeline Reform Order, only Tribal carriers that claim High Cost Program support can receive Link Up support. Therefore, we will be collecting only Link Up information subsequent to the implementation of the Lifeline Reform Order.
Q30: Since we do not offer Link Up, would there be a reason to use the "Tribal Benefit Flag"?
A30: If you do not offer Link Up, you will not use of the "Tribal Benefit flag field." The Tribal Benefit Flag is not related to the Tribal ID or Tribal primary address flag.
Q31: During the scrubbing period, if I identify an issue with a subset of subscriber records, do I need to correct only those records and resend them?
A31: No, during the scrubbing period you must correct the subscriber records and resubmit the entire file.
Q32: What transaction type should be used for the initial upload?
A32: The transaction type should be "enroll" for the initial upload.
Q33: After my state is migrated to production, do I need to provide a total refresh of the data or can I just submit the updated transactions?
A33: After a state is migrated to production, carriers only need to send new transaction details. Carriers do not have to resubmit the complete universe of subscribers again.
Q34: In production, will an ETC be able to manually input the subscriber's information or does it have to be uploaded in batches?
A34: In production, you will be able to type in a subscriber's information manually through the NLAD Access Portal (NAP).
Q35: For a transfer from one ETC to another ETC, how is the previous ETC notified?
A35: Both ETCs will be notified of the transfer via email where they will be able to view a list of all transfers made.
Q36: When updating customer information, is the previous information still in the field?
A36: If you are updating via NAP, your previous information will be automatically populated and you will need to update only the specific fields that need to be changed. If you are updating via API, you will need to provide all of the information again.
Q37: When I am updating a subscriber's information in NLAD, do I need to update one field at a time or can I update many fields?
A37: You can update one or multiple fields in one update transaction.
Q38: When an ETC provides live data to test and a duplicate is identified, will the ETC no longer be allowed to claim the subscriber at that time? Will the ETC be given an opportunity to correct the duplicate and continue claiming the subscriber until the migration process is complete?
A38: The testing results are just for testing purposes. The intended purpose is not for USAC to act on duplicates identified when ETCs are using the test environment.
Q39: Who can apply for the API test credentials, the 497 Officer or a third-party company?
A39: For testing only, the ETC's NLAD Admin account and API account will be created by the ETC's 497 Officer. The NLAD Admin is in charge of creating the sub-account for other staff or a third-party company.
Q40: When I upload a new file in testing, the results from all previously uploaded files are no longer available. Is this how it should be functioning?
A40: Yes. During the testing process, ETCs are expected to continuously upload subscriber data, correct rejected rows, and re-submit the entire subscriber data file. Once in testing, NLAD only keeps the last file of accepted and rejected rows.
Q41: The NLAD Release 1 Testing server for NAP is online. I am able to load the page, but the site is not responding after I enter your credential and click login.
A41: NLAD's testing environment has limited resources compared to production so it is not 100 percent reliable. Try again in one hour.
Q42: What is the batch file portal size once NLAD is in production?
A42: Once NLAD goes into production, the batch file should permit up to 256 megabytes.
Q43: We have one SAC in two states. The two states are in different NLAD migration groups. How does that work?
A43: The first two digits of your SAC indicate which state the study area code belongs to. For example, if it starts with 22xxxx, then the SAC belongs to the state of Georgia. As each group rolls out, only submit subscribers for the state indicated by those first two digits of the SAC.
Q44: When I upload the subscriber file, if the first digit of a number is 0, the 0 gets dropped. What can I do?
A44: This is a Microsoft Excel issue, not an NLAD issue. To keep the leading zero, add an apostrophe in front of the numbers. For example, if the SSN is 0123, add the apostrophe at the front so that it reads '0123. Save the file as a .csv (comma delimited) and upload it to NLAD. After saving the file, do not open it before uploading to NLAD, because it will revert back and drop the leading zero(s). This should solve your SSN errors caused by leading zeros.
Q45: Will the system validate mailing or service addresses?
A45: Yes. ETCs are required to submit a subscriber's full residential address to NLAD. NLAD will validate the full residential address for each subscriber.
Q46: If the primary address 1 exceeds 50 characters, then should we continue the address in primary address 2?
A46: Only the apartment number, suite number, lot number, etc. should be in the field for Address Line 2. If the Address Line 1 exceeds 50 characters, then please only put the first 50 characters in that field.
Q47: Should apartment, suite, or lot be on Address Line 1 or Address Line 2?
A47: Apartment, suite, or lot should be included in Address Line 2.
Q48: When it comes to address standards, if a street address says "ROAD" instead of "RD," will it be thrown out?
A48: No, it will not be rejected. AMS will translate "Road" to "RD."
Q49: Is NLAD going to allow addresses that do not appear in the USPS databases as primary address if the appropriate proof is presented to prove their validity?
A49: If the appropriate proof of residential address is reviewed by the ETC for residential addresses that do not appear in the USPS database, the ETC can check the "non-deliverable rural address" flag to ensure that the record can be added to NLAD. A valid residential address is required (deliverable or not), and we understand there may be cases where an address is not recognized by the USPS database records. On an optional basis, we encourage ETCs to also provide us the mailing address (e.g. a P.O. Box) for customers that reside in a residence without USPS mail service.
Q50: Our serving addresses are all MSAG 911 validated, which many times will not match a postal address. What should we do?
A50: A primary address is required, so you will need to provide the mailing address and set the flag to "non-deliverable rural address."
Q51: What is the process for subscriber address escalations?
A51: When an address fails, perhaps because it was undeliverable, the transaction will be rejected and a resolution ID will be created in NLAD. The ETC can recall the rejected transaction via the resolution ID and take action to resolve the address issue.
Q52: If a subscriber moves between states, should the subscriber be updated in NLAD or should they be de-enrolled in the old state and re-enrolled in the new state?
A52: If the subscriber is staying with the same ETC SAC, then it will be an update. In the case of moving between states with a new ETC, it will be a benefit transfer.
Q53: Will additional error codes be posted for when an address fails the AMS check? For example, zip code not found, city not recognized, street address not found, etc.
A53: Yes, additional information regarding address errors will be provided on the USAC website to include errors associated with an invalid zip code.
For a full list of NLAD error messages, please refer to the error message explanation document posted to the NLAD Resources webpage.
Q54: What is the "ACP Flag"?
A54: The ACP, or Address Confidentiality Program, Flag is used when the subscriber is in an address protection plan (program names may vary by state). However, ETC's are still required to provide a deliverable address for mail distribution.
Q55: Who is the Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP)? When is the BQP required? What is the relationship between a BQP and the subscriber?
A55: In most cases, the subscriber is the person eligible for Lifeline Program-supported service. If the subscriber is eligible, there will be no BQP. If the subscriber is not eligible, but the subscriber is the guardian or caretaker of someone who is eligible for a Lifeline Program discount, the subscriber qualifies for Lifeline Program-supported service based on the status of the individual they are the guardian/caretaker of. The eligible individual, in this case, would be considered the BQP.
Q56: What is the service initiation date?
A56: USAC will consider when a consumer became a subscriber of the Lifeline Program-supported service to determine their NLAD service initiation date.
Consumers who became subscribers prior to June 1, 2012 should use the date the service provider determined that the subscriber was eligible for Lifeline Program-supported service as the service initiation date. If an ETC cannot provide that date for a consumer who was a subscriber prior to June 1, 2012, the service provider should enter the following date for that subscriber: May 31, 2012.
Consumers who became subscribers of Lifeline Program-supported service between June 1, 2012 through the end of migration (1Q 2014) or consumers who became subscribers once the database is in production (4Q 2013), should use the date the service provider determined that the subscriber was eligible for Lifeline Program-supported service.
Q57: What do you put in the "deEnrollNonUsage" field in the NLAD Input Template?
A57: This is a field for subscribers that fall into the category of 60-day non-usage.
Q58: What does TPIV stand for?
A58: TPIV stands for third party identity verification.
Q59: Where can I find a list of definitions for NLAD acronyms and terms?
A59: There is a glossary of NLAD-specific acronyms and terms posted to the NLAD information center on the USAC website.
Q60: How does the benefit transfer feature in NLAD work?
A60: The carrier who is the recipient of the new subscriber will initiate the transaction. Both carriers will receive a notice that the transfer was successfully completed in NLAD. Once the NLAD notice has been provided, the carrier that was providing service prior to the transfer will need to de-enroll the losing subscriber within five business days of receiving the notice from NLAD.
Q61: How will subscribers know whether they are eligible for a benefit transfer? Are they able to contact USAC so that they will know where they are in the 60 day period?
A61: Subscribers must contact their service provider to determine their eligible benefit transfer date.
Q62: How long will it take between a benefit transfer request being submitted to the transfer being approved?
A62: If the benefit transfer transaction passes all validation processes, the transfer applies immediately.
Q63: Will there be communications related to the benefit transfer process?
A63: When executing a benefit transfer transaction via NAP or the API, a completion message will be returned indicating a successful completion or rejection and reason code. Also, the NLAD Admin is able to set up emails for receiving notifications.
Q64: What will benefit transfer notifications look like?
A64: The notifications at a minimum will include all required data included in the NLAD template. Notifications will be provided by email with a custom link to access detailed transfer information. Additionally, carriers will be able to query reports to review all benefit transfer activities in real time.
Q65: If a transfer is not approved because the subscriber has not met the 60 day benefit transfer time restriction, will the system provide the date at which the subscriber would be eligible for a benefit transfer?
A65: This requirement is being evaluated for inclusion in NLAD. No decision has been made.
Q66: Will there be an exception process for the subscriber? Who must the subscriber contact?
A66: A resolution request can be submitted by the ETC on behalf of the subscriber.
Q67: Will customers receive notice from USAC that their Lifeline Program benefits are being terminated with the losing carrier?
Q68: How do I resolve the "SUBSCRIBER_UNDER_18" error message and get the subscriber successfully uploaded in NLAD? The subscriber is an emancipated minor.
A68: This error message is generated because the subscriber is under the age of 18 and is therefore not eligible for participation in the program. If the subscriber is an emancipated minor, the ETC must collect documentation confirming it, such as court documents.
Q69: How do I resolve the "NVALID_MAILING_ADDRESS" error message?
A69: This error message is generated because the subscriber's address was not recognized by the U.S. Postal Service's Address Matching System. Another error message with the same resolution process is "INVALID_PRIMARY_ADDRESS." In order to resolve these error messages, the ETC must collect documentation, such as current utility bills or pay stubs, confirming that the subscriber does in fact live at the address indicated.
Q70: How do I resolve the "TPIV_FAIL" error message?
A70: This error message is generated because the subscriber has failed the Third Party Identity Verification (TPIV). In order to resolve this error message, the ETC must collect documentation, such as pay stubs, or a driver's license to confirm the identity of the subscriber.
Q71: When will the details for the exception process be available (i.e., who should we contact when we find an exception and what type of documentation will be required)?
A71: The information is available on the USAC website on the Duplicate Resolution page.
Q72: What will the data characteristics of the resolution ID be? Is it numeric or alphanumeric? How many characters will it contain?
A72: It will be alphanumeric and up to 12 characters. For example: 320775-AEBS96
Q73: Where will the resolution ID be placed in the error file that will be returned to the carriers?
A73: After downloading the error report provided, there will be a column called "Resolution ID" and a resolution ID will be available for each error. Refer to slide 46 and 47 of NLAD Connectivity Workshop #4 for an example of what an error report will look like. The slides are located in the Lifeline Program Online Learning Library.
Q74: Will carriers be able to add additional information such as independent economic household (IEH) confirmation via a household worksheet?
A74: Yes, when submitting data to NLAD, carriers will be able to indicate the IEH confirmation data from the household worksheet. From the input template, this field is "iehFlag" or column L (1 = multiple household, 0 = single household).
Q75: When will the duplicate resolution process be conducted for the initial subscribers being loaded into NLAD? Will the process be exactly the same process used for the state-by-state IDVs?
A75: The duplicate resolution process will occur on a predetermined schedule once a state has been migrated and is "live" in production. The final file used for migration will be used for the duplication resolution process. For Track 1 duplicates, the process will be the same as the current state-by-state IDV process. For Track 2 duplicates, USAC is waiting for FCC guidance based on the results of the Michigan Track 2 pilot program to finalize the process.
Q76: Will USAC notify the carriers prior to sending out letters to customers?
A76: Yes. As with the current IDV process, carriers will be notified prior to any letters being sent to subscribers.
Q77: Will duplicate customers be loaded into production NLAD or held in an error database? If these customers are held in an error database, how will USAC handle updates that need to be made to these accounts while they are in the error database?
A77: Duplicate customers will not be loaded in the production database, but instead will be held in a duplicate resolution database. When adding new subscribers, NLAD will query both the production and the duplicate resolution database to ensure that duplicate customers are not added. Customers that are awaiting the duplicate resolution process may continue to be claimed for support.
Q78: What address will duplicate resolution letters be sent to?
A78: If a mailing address is provided, the letters and postcards will be sent to the mailing address. Because the "Mailing Address" field is optional, if it is not provided, the letters and postcards will be sent to the "Primary Residential Address."
Q79: Are the letters, postcards, and automated phone call scripts available for ETCs to review?
A79: No, these will not be available for ETCs. These will only be provided to the subscribers.
Q80: Will these notifications be available in Spanish?
A80: Yes. All letters, postcards, and phone calls will be available in Spanish.
Q81: Will an ETC know if there are duplicates at the time of enrollment?
A81: Yes. Once a state is in the live production environment, if an ETC tries to enroll a subscriber that is already in NLAD, they will receive an error message indicating that the subscriber is a duplicate.
Q82: I am receiving an error message that says "Duplicate Subscriber in Process." Is this part of the duplicate resolution process?
A82: Yes. The error message, "Duplicate Subscriber in Process," tells the ETC that the subscriber has been identified as a duplicate subscriber receiving two or more Lifeline program supported services and will be placed on USAC's duplicate resolution list.
Q83: When the duplicate resolutions letters are mailed, will the subscriber be able to select their Lifeline Program carrier?
A83: Yes. During the 35-day window after the letters are sent out, the subscriber will have the chance to choose their Lifeline program carrier from the carriers listed in the letter that they receive.
Q84: How is the duplicate resolution process different than the IDV process?
A84: The two processes are almost identical. Both use the 35-day window for duplicate subscribers to make their carrier selection and both use the five-day window for de-enrollment. The only difference is that for the duplicate resolution process the data is sent and received through NLAD. Using NLAD as a portal for these transactions will result in faster processing.
Q85: What is the letter mailing schedule for the duplicate resolution process?
A85: The mailings are completed by state and states are grouped according to their migration group. To find the full schedule of dates, visit the Duplicate Resolution webpage and scroll down the page to the “Letter Date Calendar.”
Q86: Will we receive notification if the subscriber transferred from us?
A86: Yes. Once the subscriber notifies USAC of their preference, USAC will notify the carriers involved. For more information, visit the Duplicate Resolution webpage.
Q87: How are default carriers selected?
A87: USAC randomly assigns default carriers for subscribers.
Q88: Can carriers claim Lifeline Program support throughout the duplicate resolution process?
A88: Yes. At the end of the duplicate resolution process, USAC will notify carriers of the subscribers they must de-enroll.