Jeff Raymond, 9 Investigates
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has notified two additional phone companies of its plans to investigate whether they're following the rules of the Lifeline program.
The commission now has notified five telecommunications companies in Oklahoma – Easy Telephone Services Co., Assist Wireless, True Wireless, Icon Telecom and TerraCom – of its concerns.
The five companies together took in more than $147 million in Lifeline subsidies in 2012, according to figures from the nonprofit that manages the program. The letters from the commission, called "show cause" applications, explain the companies' alleged failures in overseeing the program, from signing up subscribers multiple times to not making sure they qualify for the program.
The commission also contends that the companies have not charged the legally required $1-a-month fee for each subscriber.
The $2.2 billion Lifeline program is funded by a surcharge on phone lines.
The Corporation Commission has told 9 Investigates that the explosive growth in the Lifeline program in the state threatens to exhaust the supply of phone numbers in the 405 area code.
Despite writing new rules last year to crack down on abuse in the program, the FCC told The Wall Street Journal that if has found "significant systematic concerns in Oklahoma."