DR 97-214
         Order Nisi Establishing a Lifeline Program for Low Income
                  Customers Pursuant to FCC Order 97-157
                          O R D E R  N O.  22,748
                              October 7, 1997

         Pursuant to Order No. 97-157, issued May 8, 1997 in CC
Docket 96-45 (Universal Service Order), the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) requires telecommunications
carriers to meet certain requirements, including, inter alia, the
provision of the federally funded Lifeline program (Lifeline), 
in order to receive federal universal service funds.  The
Universal Service Order directs state commissions to designate
qualifying carriers as Eligible Telecommunications Carriers. 
Because New Hampshire carriers have not been required to provide
Lifeline in the past, this docket is commenced to declare the New
Hampshire Public Utilities Commission's intent to maximize the
federal support available for Lifeline customers and to establish 
the method for identifying qualified Lifeline customers, thus
helping New Hampshire carriers to file appropriate Lifeline
tariffs which will meet that portion of the ETC designation
process.  Completion of the ETC designation process is separate
and subsequent to the filing of Lifeline tariffs.
         Lifeline provides federal funds to reduce residential
end-user Subscriber Line Charges.  Effective January 1, 1998, the
FCC will provide a $3.50 credit to the Subscriber Line Charge and
an additional $1.75 per line per month.  Federal funding
eligibility is contingent upon state commission approval of a
tariff reducing the basic local exchange rate by $1.75, for a
total Lifeline discount of $5.25 per line per month for an
eligible customer.  No state matching funds are required in order
to obtain the federal funding of $5.25. 
         States may provide additional state funds to support an
even greater Lifeline discount.  The federal government will
provide an additional contribution of no more than $1.75 if the
state provides funding of $3.50, for a total Lifeline discount of
$10.50 ($7.00 in federal contributions, $3.50 in state
         New Hampshire, however, does not currently fund low
income telecommunications customers.  In New Hampshire, Bell
Atlantic offers a low use measured local service for $9.61 per
month.  Independent Telephone Companies' residential rates range
     between $6.92 and $15.78  Lifeline would discount each of these
     rates for eligible customers by $5.25.
          Given the low basic exchange rates available in New
     Hampshire, we believe a $5.25 Lifeline discount is sufficient,
     but we will defer to the judgment of the Legislature whether a
     greater discount should be provided.  Such a program would,
     presumably, be funded through a surcharge on all New Hampshire
     telecommunications customers.  The recently formed Joint
     Oversight Committee on Telecommunications might be the
     appropriate body to initially consider the question. 
          Consistent with FCC orders, the Commission adopts a
     "means-tested" eligibility standard for identifying qualified
     Lifeline recipients.  In order to receive Lifeline, a consumer
     must be a current recipient of one of the following low income
     assistance programs; Medicaid, food stamps, Supplementary
     Security Income, federal public housing assistance, or Low Income
     Home Energy Assistance Program.  These programs are those
     required by 47 C.F.R. 54.409(b) as qualification criteria in
     states such as New Hampshire, that do not provide state Lifeline
          Carriers are required to verify a customer's
     participation in one of the above-mentioned low income assistance
     programs.  As verification, the carrier may use a document,
     signed by the customer and certifying under penalty of perjury
     that the customer is in fact receiving benefits from at least 
     one of the assistance programs identified above.  The document
     must contain the names of the low income program(s) from which
     the customer receives assistance, as well as an agreement by the
     customer to notify the carrier when the customer ceases to
     receive assistance.  Carriers must keep the verification document
     on file.  
          Link-Up is an assistance program which provides a
     reduction in the carrier's customary charge for commencing
     service at a qualifying low-income consumer's principal place of
     residence.  New Hampshire currently participates in the Link-Up
     program and has established qualification criteria for
     determining if a consumer may receive Link-Up.  In order to
     receive Link-Up, a New Hampshire consumer must be a current
     recipient of one of a number of low income assistance programs. 
     Now, as a result of regulations adopted by the FCC in Order
     97-157, the qualification criteria must expand to include
     additional programs.  Pursuant to 47 C.F.R. 54.415(a), Link-Up
     qualification criteria in states that provide state Lifeline
     service, which New Hampshire will forthwith, shall be the same as
     the criteria set forth in 54.409(b), i.e., participation in one
     of the programs listed above in order to receive Lifeline. New
     Hampshire's Link-Up criteria currently do not include three of
     the programs.  Therefore, by this order we will expand the
     Link-Up qualification criteria to include the following
     additional programs; Medicaid, federal public housing assistance,
     and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
          Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby 
          ORDERED NISI, that New Hampshire telecommunications
     carriers which wish to obtain Eligible Telecommunications Carrier
     designation shall file with the Commission Lifeline tariffs which
     comply with the customer qualification methodology described
     herein for Lifeline; and it is
          FURTHER ORDERED, that the above-mentioned tariffs shall
     contain the appropriate rate reductions by which New Hampshire
     will comply with FCC Order No. 97-157;
          FURTHER ORDERED, that telecommunications carriers which
     offer Link-Up shall file with the Commission tariffs which comply
     with the customer qualification criteria described herein for
     Link-Up; and it is
          FURTHER ORDERED, that pursuant to N.H. Admin. Rules,
     Put 1601.05, the Executive Director and Secretary of the
     Commission shall cause a copy of this Order Nisi to be published
     once in a statewide newspaper of general circulation, such
     publication to be no later than October 14, 1997; and it is
          FURTHER ORDERED, that all persons interested in
     responding to this Order Nisi shall submit their comments or file
     a written request for a hearing on this matter before the
     Commission no later than October 28, 1997; and it is
          FURTHER ORDERED, that any party interested in
     responding to such comments or request for hearing shall do so no
     later than November 4, 1997; and it is
          FURTHER ORDERED, that this Order Nisi shall be
     effective 30 days from its issuance, November 6, 1997, unless the
     Commission provides otherwise in a supplemental order issued
     prior to the effective date.
          By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this seventh day of October, 1997.
        Douglas L. Patch    Bruce B. Ellsworth        Susan S. Geiger
            Chairman           Commissioner            Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary