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USAC's Latest News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the universal service programs as they were made throughout the years.

12/8/2016USAC Call Centers Closing at 12:30 PM on Monday, December 12 - E-rate CSB will Remain Open


USAC's Customer Operations (888) 641-8722 and RHC Help Desk (800) 453-1546 call centers will close at 12:30 PM on Monday, December 12, 2016. Neither customer service group will be available to recieve calls or emails . We will reopen at 9:00 AM on Tuesday, December 13, 2016. Please note that this outage does not affect the E-rate Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB).

12/8/2016Invitation to Webinar: Lifeline Program Updates December 14


Join us to hear updates about the Lifeline Program, including the Lifeline Modernization Order and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). During the webinars, you can ask questions and participate in a collaborative dialog with USAC and stakeholders throughout the industry.

Lifeline Program Updates Webinar, Wednesday, December 14, 3:00 PM ET
REGISTER NOW 

Webinar Agenda
During the webinar, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss:

  • Update on the Lifeline Modernization Changes and Next Steps

To foster a collaborative discussion with our audience, we will accept live questions during the event. We look forward to hearing your questions and comments!

Q&A and Event Resources
Please submit questions and comments in advance to the Lifeline Program while registering. Visit the Lifeline Program Update Webinars page to find the webinar recording, slide deck, and list of questions and answers for each event.

12/8/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, December 11


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 11 for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in, or to file, certify, and search for certain forms via the EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

12/7/2016Restore Full NLAD Functionality by Friday, December 9


Last week, USAC deployed changes to the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) to accommodate the new requirements from the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. Due to the Modernization changes, we have been experiencing an unprecedented volume of NLAD transactions which have led to substantial NLAD service disruptions.

We apologize for the inconvenience that these disruptions have caused and thank you for your patience as we work to restore full NLAD functionality.

We will release incremental improvements that should improve NLAD’s transaction capacity today by 3 PM ET. These enhancements will not require an outage and users should experience little to no interruptions in service as a result. Furthermore, we are currently adding more capacity to the NLAD system to handle larger volumes of transactions and anticipate being fully operational by the end of this week, December 9, 2016. 

We will continue to communicate any and all changes until all issues have been resolved.

12/7/2016NLAD Release Version 3.0.1


NLAD version 3.0.1 has been released into the Production Environment today, December 6, 2016. The following system updates were included in this release:

New "INVALID_BROADBAND_SVCINITDATE" error message

  • In compliance with the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, the "svcinitdate" cannot precede December 2, 2016 for Service Types where broadband meets the minimum service standards (Broadband, Bundled - Broadband, Bundled - Voice and Broadband).
  • The updated API Specification document containing the new error message code and description is now available in the NLAD Production Environment.

Update to Eligibility Program Code "E16 - State Eligibility Waiver"

  • This Eligibility Program code should only be used by states that have been granted a waiver by the FCC. These states are:
    • California
    • Maryland
    • Michigan
    • New York
    • Utah
    • Vermont
    • Washington
    • Wisconsin
  • The updated NLAD User Guide containing the new Eligibility Program code and the list of states that have been granted waivers is now available in the NLAD Production environment.

12/5/2016NLAD Service Outages


USAC is aware of the ongoing issues that NLAD users are experiencing with both the web portal and the API. At this time, we are working to resolve the issue to ensure that the system functions normally. We apologize for the disruptions to your business processes that have resulted from the NLAD service outages.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

12/2/2016Production Release of the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order Changes


NLAD version 3.0.0 has been released into the Production Environment today, December 2nd, 2016. Reflected in this release are the enhancements to the lifeline program that are detailed on USAC’s 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order webpage. The release includes:

New NLAD fields:

  • Service Type (Required Field): Service Providers must input the service that meets the Lifeline Program minimum service standards.
  • Subscriber ID: System-generated unique record identifier; can be used to perform “Update” and “De-enroll” transactions. All existing and new NLAD subscribers will be assigned a Subscriber ID.
  • Anniversary Date: System-generated due date for rolling recertification, occurs every 12 months from the customer's service initiation date, or the date when their eligibility was last verified.

NLAD Enhancements

  • Ability to Enroll "Broadband" service type subscribers without a phone number; Phone Number field will be optional when the "Broadband" only service type is selected
  • Inclusion of the 12-month or 60-day Port Freeze restriction based on the subscriber’s Service Initiation Date and Service Type
  • Ability to submit a Port Freeze Exception resolution request
  • New validation for the Lifeline Tribal Benefit flag – designation is now required
  • Updated Lifeline Program Eligibility Codes
  • Updated Reports to include the Service Type, Anniversary Date, and Subscriber ID fields  

The NLAD user guide and API Specification document reflecting these changes are now available in the “Reports and Tools” section of the Production environment.

Questions about NLAD
If you have any questions, contact us at NLADSupport@usac.org or (877) 524-1325.




12/2/2016NLAD Service Disruptions


USAC would like to apologize to Lifeline service providers for the disruptions that they have been encountering in NLAD. Today we have experienced an extraordinary amount of traffic, much higher than we expected, which has led to the brief but frequent disruptions in service. We would like to emphasize that these disruptions are not related to the NLAD Modernization Order changes that were released early on the morning of December 2.

We are addressing the underlying issues to ensure that the system is operating normally as soon as possible. We advise service providers to keep trying their transactions/requests if they receive a “Service Unavailable” response.

Thank you for your patience.

12/2/2016News Brief Issued


The 12/02/2016 issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

11/30/2016Release of NLAD v.3.0.0 on Thursday, December 1


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable on Thursday, December 1 from 9:00 PM to Friday, December 2nd at 2:00 AM ET. Both the pre-production and production environments will unavailable for use during this time.
 
NLAD v.3.0.0 will be released during this outage.
 
This release includes:

  • Deployment of the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order changes in the NLAD production environment  
  •  

    11/29/2016Lifeline Forbearance Notifications Must List Census Blocks


    By December 2, 2016, Service Providers (i.e. Lifeline carriers) electing forbearance relief from offering Lifeline broadband must identify the Census blocks, or in the case of Lifeline-only ETCs, the Census recognized geographic area (e.g., Census blocks, Census block groups, Census tracts, or Counties), in their FCC forbearance notifications. Providing SAC Codes rather than Census blocks is not sufficient.
     
    For additional information about Lifeline forbearance notifications, please visit the USAC website.   

    11/23/2016Filing Procedures for Forbearance, State-Managed Eligibility Verification


    The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

    11/22/2016E-rate Client Service Bureau Closed: Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25


    In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Schools and Libraries Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB) will be closed on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25. CSB will reopen Monday, November 28 for the regular hours of 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

    11/17/2016High Cost Program ETCs Required to Offer Lifeline Broadband Starting December 2


    Beginning December 2, 2016, recipients of High Cost Program support will be obligated to offer Lifeline broadband service as outlined in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order.

    Most Providers Must Offer Lifeline-Supported Broadband Starting December 2 
    Service providers that receive high-cost support through the Universal Service Fund and commercially offer service that meets the Lifeline minimum service standards are required to offer Lifeline-supported broadband internet access service (BIAS) starting on December 2, 2016. This change is part of the FCC's 2016 Lifeline Modernization order.

    Once you begin offering Lifeline-supported broadband service to customers in your area, file FCC Form 497 to receive reimbursement. Please ensure the Lifeline blocks of FCC Form 498 (blocks 7&8) are completed and submit a Lifeline SAC Request Update before submitting FCC Form 497. Visit USAC's website to learn more.

    Details about Broadband Obligations
    A recipient of high-cost support is required to offer Lifeline BIAS starting December 2, 2016, if it:

    • Is commercially providing broadband consistent with its obligations set forth in the Commission's high-cost rules and the Lifeline minimum service standards; or
    • Has deployed a network capable of delivering service that meets the Lifeline minimum service standards, and commercially offers such service pursuant to its high-cost obligations.

    An ETC is that receives high-cost support is not required to offer Lifeline BIAS if it meets one of these conditions and files for forbearance:

    • Receives frozen high-cost support;
    • Does not receive high-cost support in the specific census block;
    • Does not commercially offer a broadband service in the census block that meets the minimum service standards of the Lifeline program pursuant to its high-cost obligations;
    • Has not yet deployed a broadband network consistent with its high-cost public interest obligation to offer broadband (in this case, it does not have an obligation to provide Lifeline broadband service until it deploys a broadband network and is commercially offering service to that area).

    About the Lifeline Program
    The federal Lifeline Program provides a monthly benefit of $9.25 ($34.25 for subscribers living on Tribal lands) to help eligible low income consumers access phone and, beginning in December 2016, broadband service. The benefit is paid directly to service providers who then pass the cost reduction along to subscribers.

    11/17/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: November 19


    The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance on Saturday, November 19 from 2:00-6:00 AM ET.

    The NLAD pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

    For a full calendar of scheduled maintenance, visit the Maintenance Schedule page on the Lifeline Program website.

    11/16/2016NLAD Bulletin: Pre-Production Release of Subscriber ID Field


    NLAD version 2.8.12 has been released into the Pre-Production environment today, November 16, 2016. This release includes the addition of a new system-generated "Subscriber ID" field in NLAD. This enhancement allows carriers to:

    • Use the "Subscriber ID" field as a unique record identifier.
    • Perform "Update" or "De-enroll" transactions using the "Subscriber ID" field instead of the phone number.
    • Enroll "Broadband" service type subscribers without a phone number. A phone number will not be required for subscribers with a "Broadband" service type.

    These changes are only effective in the Pre-Production environment. They will not be live in the Production environment until December 2, 2016. These are the final planned changes in NLAD before the Modernization Order rules take effect on December 2, 2016.

    The API Specification document reflecting these changes has been available in "Reports and Tools" section of the Pre-Production environment.

    11/15/2016498/499 Spotlight Newsletter 4Q2016 Issued


    The 4Q2016 498/499 Spotlight newsletter is now available. The 498/499 Spotlight newsletter is designed to provide important, up-to-date information about the FCC Form 498 and FCC Form 499 including news, deadlines, and filing best practices for service providers. 

    To sign up to receive the 498/499 Spotlight newsletter via email, visit the subscription center.

    11/10/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, November 13


    The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:30-10:30 PM ET, Sunday, November 13 for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in, or to file, certify, and search for certain forms via the EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

    11/8/2016E-rate Client Service Bureau Closed: Friday, November 11


    In observance of the Veterans Day holiday, the Schools and Libraries Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB) will be closed on Friday, November 11, 2016. CSB will reopen Monday, November 14 for regular hours of 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

    11/4/2016Modernization Updates: Benefit Port Freeze


    The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

    11/2/2016E-File Password Reset Requests


    On Saturday, October 29, 2016, we upgraded our E-File login platform to provide identity management, single sign-on, and mobility management for our applications.  As a result of this action, online password reset requests will result in an email to the user with further instructions for changing their password.  It may take up to 10 minutes for this email to be delivered to you.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

    11/2/2016One Month to Go! Modernization Rules Effective December 2


    Big changes to the Lifeline Program take effect one month from today, on Friday, December 2, 2016. Lifeline service providers should be prepared to comply with the rules from 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order starting on December 2, which include:

    • Lifeline for broadband: Customers may choose to use their Lifeline benefit on either fixed/mobile broadband or voice service (still only one benefit per household).
    • New and retired eligibility programs: Customers can now use the Federal Veterans Pension to prove their eligibility for Lifeline, but they can no longer use LIHEAP, TANF, or the National School Lunch Program.
    • Minimum service standards: Lifeline-supported voice services must provide at least 500 minutes per month; mobile broadband must be a speed of at least 3G with a usage allowance of at least 500 MB; fixed broadband must be a speed of at least 10/1 Mbps with a usage allowance of at least 150 GB.
    • Benefit port freeze: Customers are required to remain with their service provider for a minimum period of 60 days (voice) or 12 months (fixed/mobile broadband) before they can switch their benefit to a different provider.
    • Rolling recertification: Service providers must annually verify each customer's continued eligibility by the customer's service initiation anniversary date. 
    • Usage and non-usage: Texts count as usage, and the non-usage period is shortened from 60 to 30 days.

    USAC will submit the National Verifier plan to the FCC on November 30. Visit our website to learn more about the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order rules that take effect on December 2.

    11/2/2016Invitation to Webinar: Lifeline Program Updates October 9


    Join us to hear updates about the Lifeline Program, including the Lifeline Modernization Order and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). During the webinars, you can ask questions and participate in a collaborative dialog with USAC and stakeholders throughout the industry.

    Lifeline Program Update Webinar, Wednesday, October 9, 3:00 PM ET
    REGISTER NOW 

    Webinar Agenda
    During the webinar, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss:

    • Status of the National Verifier 
    • Update to FCC Form 497

    To foster a collaborative discussion with our audience, we will accept pre-submitted and live questions during the event. We look forward to hearing your questions and comments!

    Q&A and Event Resources
    Please submit questions and comments in advance to the Lifeline Program while registering. Visit the Lifeline Program Update Webinars page to find the webinar recording, slide deck, and list of questions and answers for each event.

    10/31/2016NLAD Pre-Production Release of Port Freeze Restriction


    NLAD version 2.8.11 has been released into the Pre-Production environment today, October 31, 2016. Reflected in the release are the Lifeline benefit Port Freeze restrictions that are detailed in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. The release includes:

    • The 12-month or 60-day Port Freeze restriction based on the subscriber’s Service Initiation Date
    • The ability to submit a Port Freeze Exception resolution request

    These changes are only effective in the Pre-Production environment. They will not be live in Production until the associated Modernization Order changes take effect on December 2, 2016.

    The API Specification document reflecting these changes has been available in “Reports and Tools” section of the Pre-Production environment.

    10/31/2016Modernization Updates: LBP Designation Process, Update on National Verifier, and More


    The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

    10/28/2016FCC Extends Deadline for E-rate Participants to Request Invoice Deadline Extensions


    Today, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1234) extending the deadline for E-rate participants with an October 28, 2016 invoice deadline for Funding Year 2015 to request an extension of the invoice deadline due to technical problems that might have prevented parties from filing. You should submit your Funding Year 2015 extension request using the Invoice Extension Deadline Tool or the Submit a Question feature no later than Monday, October 31, 2016 at 11:59 PM ET.

    10/28/2016New Feature in the Lifeline Disbursement Tool: Subscriber Counts


    A new enhancement to the Funding Disbursement Search tool is now available. The tool now displays the number of tribal and non-tribal subscribers receiving support per study area code (SAC).

    Visit our website to use the new feature:

    • Visit the Lifeline Program website
    • Select "Search Tools" from the left-hand menu
    • Select the Funding Disbursement Search tool
    • Enter your search criteria and press the "Find" button
    • To see the subscriber counts, click the "+" button to the left of each row.

    10/28/2016FCC Issues Public Notice Regarding Implementation of the Rolling Recertification Process


    On October 27, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1227) providing additional guidance on the implementation of the rolling recertification process. 

    Please see the document for more information on the timeline and requirements for this process.

    10/25/2016FCC Releases Deployment Obligations for A-CAM and CAF-BLS


    On October 20, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1207) announcing the posting of information comparing the defined deployment obligations that would apply to rate-of-return carriers electing model-based support versus the defined deployment obligations for rate-of-return carriers remaining on the reformed legacy universal service mechanisms (including Connect America Fund-Broadband Loop Support, or CAF-BLS). The Public Notice includes a link to the deployment details.

    10/24/2016Invitation to Webinar: National Verifier Update


    The Lifeline Program is excited to launch the National Verifier and to complete implementation of the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. In the past few months, USAC has been gathering insights from program stakeholders to inform the design and functionality of the National Verifier. We hope you can join us to hear the high-level plans for the National Verifier and to provide us with feedback about our approach.

    Register for Webinar: Lifeline Program National Verifier Update for Service Providers
    Tuesday, November 1, 2016
    1:00-2:00 PM ET

    Service providers currently manage the eligibility verification process in most states and we welcome the opportunity to hear your feedback about the proposed verification process, learning what works well and how the National Verifier can improve the process.

    We appreciate your participation in Lifeline and value your insight, both as verifiers and important USAC stakeholders.

    About the National Verifier
    The National Verifier will shift the burden of eligibility verification for enrollment and re-certification from carriers to USAC. This change should help reduce costs, complexity, and overall liability for carriers. See paragraph 128 of the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order for more details. 

    Additional Information
    Visit our website to learn more about the National Verifier and the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. If you need webinar assistance, email the Lifeline Program.

    10/24/2016Rate-of-Return Page Now Available on USAC Website


    USAC has created a new webpage to serve as a resource for carriers navigating the Rate of Return reform order released by the FCC in late March.

    Visit the page now: USAC Rate-of-Return Reform Order Webpage

    The site contains links to important information about financial calculations and deployment obligations to help carriers decide whether to elect the new Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) support mechanism created by the order, or remain with a modified version of legacy support mechanisms with Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS) and High Cost Loop Support (HCLS).

    The site also includes links to FCC Webinars, answers to stakeholder questions and key dates.

    Carriers interested in receiving the new A-CAM support must notify the FCC by email by Tuesday, November 1, 2016. No action is required for carriers that wish to continue to receive support from the reformed legacy mechanisms.

    10/21/2016Request an Invoice Deadline Extension with This New Tool


    The deadline to submit invoices for FY2015 recurring services is October 28, 2016, for most applicants and service providers. This is also the deadline to request an invoice deadline extension. 


    New Way to Request an Extension
    Both applicants and service providers can now request an immediate extension of their invoice deadlines by using a new tool in the online BEAR Form or E-File system, respectively.

    Applicants
    Here is how to request an invoice extension:

    1. Log in to the online BEAR Form
    2. Click the Deadline Extension tab at the top of the screen.
    3. Enter the first Funding Request Number (FRN) for which you want to request a deadline extension. You can only request an extension for one FRN at a time. The screen will display the details of the FRN so that you can verify that you entered the correct FRN.
    4. Click Submit to request a deadline extension.

    You will receive an automatic approval or denial message on your screen and also an email with the same message, and, if your request is approved, the FRN Extension Table will update immediately with your extended deadline.

    Service Providers
    Here is how to request an invoice extension:

    1. Log in to E-File.
    2. Click on the 472 Online BEAR link.
    3. Choose your SPIN and click Set. (If you have more than one SPIN, you must choose the appropriate SPIN from the dropdown list).
    4. Click the Deadline Extension tab at the top of the screen.
    5. Enter the first Funding Request Number (FRN) for which you want to request a deadline extension. You can only request an extension for one FRN at a time. The screen will display the details of the FRN so that you can verify that you entered the correct FRN.
    6. Click Submit to request a deadline extension.

    You will receive an automatic approval or denial message on your screen and also an email with the same message, and, if your request is approved, the FRN Extension Table will update immediately with your extended deadline.


    NB: The automatic response email will come from the sender "no-reply" and the domain "solixinc.com," so the email may be blocked if you do not add this information to your safe senders list.


    10/14/2016Modernization Updates: Consumer Outreach, 497 Snapshot Limit on Revisions, Income Eligibility


    The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

    10/11/2016NLAD Pre-Production Release of Modernization Order Changes


    NLAD version 2.8.10 has been released into the Pre-Production environment today, October 11, 2016. The following changes are reflected in this release:

    • Tribal Benefit Flag is now a required field in the UI and API
    • Updated Eligibility Codes
    • Addition of Service Type field in the UI and API
    • Updated reports to include the Service Type field and Anniversary Date field

    These changes are only effective in the Pre-Production environment. They will not be live in Production until the associated Modernization Order changes take effect on December 2, 2016.
    The API Specification document reflecting these changes is currently available in “Reports and Tools” section of the Pre-Production environment.

    Additionally, we have provided an updated NLAD Input File on the NLAD Resources page, which can be used for your Pre-Production testing.

    10/10/2016Broadband Loop Support Buildout Requirement Schedule Now Available


    Deployment Obligations for Rate-of-Return Carriers
    On October 6, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1141) announcing the availability of information regarding the mandatory deployment obligations that will apply to rate-of-return carriers who remain on legacy universal service support mechanisms. 

    This information is now posted on USAC’s website on the High Cost Program Search Tools page. 

    Tariff Procedures Order Released
    Also on October 6, 2016, the FCC released the Tariff Procedures Order (DA 16-1145). It establishes procedures for the filing of access charge tariffs and Tariff Review Plans (TRPs) for incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) subject to rate-of-return regulation (rate-of-return LECs) electing to offer broadband-only loop service beginning January 3, 2017.

    10/10/2016Third Quarter 2016 RHC Circuit Issued


    The 3Q2016 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

    10/7/2016Rate-of-Return Order Q&A Webinar Recording, Q&A Now Available!


    Thanks to the many carriers who joined us on October 6 for the webinar, "Rate-of-Return Reform Order Q&A."

    A recording of the event is now available in the High Cost Program online learning library, along with the presentation slide deck and selected written Q&A

    10/7/2016Modernization Updates: Service Types in NLAD, Port Freeze, Non-Usage


    The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

    10/7/2016ACAM Transition Support Amounts Now Available


    As outlined in the Rate of Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016), USAC has posted to its website the ACAM transition support for carriers whose ACAM support is less than what they receive under legacy support.

    Visit the High Cost Search Tools page to view the details of transition support amounts.

    10/5/2016Capital Investment Allowance Worksheet Now Available


    As directed in the Rate of Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016), USAC has posted to its website resources to aid rate-of-return carriers in determining their capital investment allowance (CIA). Visit the High Cost Search Tools page to view the illustrative CIA results, the CIA worksheet, and documentation of the calculation methodology.

    About the Rate-of-Return Capital Investment Allowance
    The CIA sets a maximum for capital investment expenses that a rate-of-return carrier may include for purposes of calculating High Cost Loop Support (HCLS) and Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF BLS). As adopted in the Rate-of-Return Reform Order, the CIA will first apply to investment made in 2017.  

    Calculate Your Investment Allowance
    The CIA Resources provide illustrative results showing a carrier’s allowance, had CIA had been applied to its 2015 investment, and a worksheet that allows carriers to calculate the CIA based on their own inputs. In addition, documentation of the CIA methodology is available to accompany the illustrative results and template. 

    10/5/2016Lifeline Program Update Webinar Rescheduled to October 13


    **This event has been rescheduled due to the Yom Kippur holiday.**

    Join us to hear updates about the Lifeline Program, including the Lifeline Modernization Order and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). During the webinars, you can ask questions and participate in a collaborative dialog with USAC and stakeholders throughout the industry.

    Lifeline Program Update Webinar, Thursday, October 13, 3:00 PM ET
    REGISTER NOW 

    Webinar Agenda
    During the webinar, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss:

    • New functionalities that will be deployed in NLAD to address the benefit port freeze requirement.

    We expect a technical discussion outlining these changes in detail and our IT staff will be available to answer your questions. To foster a collaborative discussion with our audience, we will accept live questions during the event. We look forward to hearing your questions and comments!

    10/5/2016FCC Issues Public Notice Regarding OMB Approval of Lifeline Rule Changes


    On October 3, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1133) announcing OMB approval of the rules from the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order has been published in the Federal Register. The rules and their corresponding effective dates are listed below. Please refer to the links below for more information on the specific rule changes.

    Rules that became effective on June 23, 2016

    Rules that became effective upon Federal Register announcement of OMB approval on October 3, 2016

    Rules that will become effective on December 2, 2016

    Rules that will become effective on January 1, 2017

    10/4/2016E-rate Applicant Training – Buena Vista Still Happening


    The E-rate Applicant Training in Buena Vista this Thursday, October 6, 2016,will take place as scheduled. It has not been cancelled. Please visit our 2016 Applicant Training: Buena Vista web page for any updates on this event's status. We look forward to seeing you there!

    10/3/2016FCC Public Notice: Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) Designation, Minimum Service Standards


    On September 30, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-118) that provides additional guidance to entities seeking Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) designations for the Lifeline program. 

    Also included is guidance on the implementation of minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported broadband Internet access service (BIAS), and is applicable to LBPs and eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) seeking Lifeline reimbursement. 

    USAC will communicate any additional information via our website, email, or newsletters as it becomes available.

    9/29/2016FCC Annual Report for HCF Program Consortia Due September 30


    The FCC recently released a Public Notice specifying Funding Year (FY) 2015 annual reporting requirements for Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) and Pilot Program consortia. 

    The reports for FY2015 (July 2015 - June 2016) are due tomorrow, Friday, September 30, 2016.

    Template to Supplement RHC Program Forms
    For FY2015, RHC Program consortia are required to submit additional information for annual reports using an Excel template (available for download on the USAC website) to supplement information collected in RHC Program application forms. HCF Program consortia must submit the Excel spreadsheet to USAC with the types of telehealth applications supported by the RHC Program.

    Visit our website to learn more about annual report requirements and download the Excel template you need to fill out and submit:

    When completing the spreadsheet, select "Yes" from the drop-down menu in column B to indicate that that consortium is using that type of telehealth application.

    About Annual Reports
    Consortia must submit annual reports to help USAC and the FCC understand the progress made each year in meeting the program’s performance goals to:

    • Increase broadband access for healthcare providers, particularly those serving rural areas,
    • Foster development and deployment of broadband healthcare networks, and
    • Maximize program cost-effectiveness

    9/28/2016Webinar Invitation: Rate-of-Return Order Q&A with the FCC


    Join the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau Staff and USAC for a webinar on October 6 to discuss the status of implementation of the 2016 Rate-of-Return Reform Order.

    Rate-of-Return Reform Order Q&A
    The session will begin with a short presentation, but most of the time will be dedicated to Q&A with the FCC. The agenda includes:

    • Status of the implementation of the Rate-of-Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016)
    • Questions submitted in advance (submit yours using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form)
    • Open Q&A

    Register Now: 2016 Rate-of-Return Order Q&A
    Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM ET

    Carriers are encouraged to submit questions in advance using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form. 

    This session will be recorded and posted to USAC's Online Learning Library for later viewing. A recording of the Rate-of-Return Reform Order webinar presented in April 2016 is also available on that page, along with the slide deck and Q&A.

    If you have any questions about the event, please contact HC Questions.

    9/28/2016Webinar on October 6: Rate-of-Return Reform Order Q&A


    Join the FCC and USAC for a webinar on October 6 to discuss the status of implementation of the 2016 Rate-of-Return Order. The session will include a short presentation, followed by an open Q&A. Carriers are encouraged to submit their questions in advance using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form.

    The session will be recorded and available for later viewing in the Online Learning Library

    9/26/2016September 2016 HC Reporter Issued


    The September 2016 HC Reporter is now available. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    9/26/2016Sept. 27 Service Provider Webinar Canceled


    The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program weekly webinar for service providers scheduled for Tuesday, September 27, 2016, is canceled. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    9/22/2016Skilled Nursing Facilities Eligible Starting January 1


    New legislation signed by the President on June 22, 2016, amends the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to include skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) among the list of eligible health care providers (HCPs) in both the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) and Telecommunications Programs. 

    SNFs can begin applying to the program on January 1, 2017, by submitting their FCC Form 460 (HCF Program) or Form 465 (Telecom Program) to determine eligibility.

    Getting Started in the RHC Program
    To confirm that your facility is eligible, start the RHC Program application process by filing an FCC Form 460 (for the Healthcare Connect Fund) or FCC Form 465 (for the Telecommunications Program). You can also call the RHC Help Desk at (800) 453-1546 for help getting started with the program. 

    To receive RHC Program funding, in addition to being an eligible facility type such as a skilled nursing facility, the facility must be: 

    • Not-for-profit or public, and
    • In an FCC-approved rural location, if it is applying as an individual HCP. You can look up your rurality status with the Eligible Rural Areas Search.

    9/22/2016Special Edition News Brief - Update on EPC Known Issues


    The 09/22/2016 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    9/21/2016File Forecasted Cost and Revenue Data by October 1


    The FCC issued a Public Notice (DA-16-1052) announcing that to implement Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support. All carriers are required to file (with USAC) forecasted cost and revenue data for the first six months of 2017 by October 1, 2016.

    The forecasted cost and revenue data associated with consumer broadband-only loops, in addition to the previously collected common line data, will be collected on a revised version of FCC Form 508.

    The updated FCC Forms 507, 508 and 509 and their instructions can now be accessed on the High Cost Program Forms page.

    9/20/2016USAC Unveils FRN Status Tool


    USAC launched a new tool to display information about funding request numbers (FRNs) for FY2016 and future funding years.

    See the tool! Funding Request Number (FRN) Status Tool
    FRN Status Tool instructions

    The FRN Status Tool, has a look and feel similar to that of the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), but it provides more choices than the DRT of information that can be retrieved.

    Functionality Roll-Out
    This tool will be rolled out in two phases:

    • Phase I: "Standard Report": The first phase, which we just launched, follows the "Standard Report" format of the current DRT – a specific set of fields that is always returned based on the search criteria selected. This is the version of the FRN Status Tool that is available now. 
    • Phase II: "Select Data Points": The second phase will follow the "Select Data Points" format in the current DRT, which allows the user to select one, some, or all of the fields from a menu of specific fields – again, based on the search criteria selected. This version is currently under development and should be available in the near future. 

    Usefulness for Service Providers
    Service providers can type in their 498 ID/SPIN and from there, will be able to see committed amounts and the FCC Form 486 service start dates. This information will be helpful for invoicing purposes. You can also find instructions on using the FRN Status Tool to perform a "Standard Report" on the USAC website. Note that the search results are always returned at the FRN level, one line per FRN. The tool instructions also include the list of FCC Form 471 review statuses together with their definitions.

    9/14/2016Section 54.314 Certification Due October 1


    State commissions and carriers receiving High Cost Program support must submit the Section 54.314 Certification to USAC and the FCC by October 1, 2016, to fulfill the annual certification requirements pursuant to 47 CFR Section 54.314.

    • State commissions: Must certify all carriers under their jurisdiction who receive High Cost Program support, including carriers who receive Mobility Fund support.
    • Carriers who self-certify: ETCs not subject to state jurisdiction, including carriers who receive Mobility Fund support, also must submit the Section 54.314 Certification.

    Since October 1 falls on a Saturday this year, submissions received by Monday, October 3, 2016 will be considered timely.

    How to File
    Submit the certification to USAC and the FCC by October 1. Log in to E-File to certify online; certifications can also be submitted to USAC via email or U.S. mail.

    Section 54.314 Certification Resources
    More information about the Section 54.314 Certification is available at the bottom of the High Cost Program Forms page. Resources available include frequently asked questions (FAQs), filing guides, sample letters, and the Section 54.314 Online Video Series.

    9/13/2016FCC Announces Fourth Quarter 2016 Contribution Factor Decrease to 17.4 Percent


    The Federal Communications Commission released a Public Notice (DA 16-1024) announcing that the proposed universal service contribution factor for the fourth quarter (October-December) of 2016 will be 0.174 or 17.4 percent.

    9/12/2016OpEx Limit Worksheet Now Available


    In the Rate of Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted limits on operating expenses (OpEx) eligible for support under the High Cost Loop Support (HCLS) and Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS) support mechanisms. We recently notified carriers subject to the limits beginning in January 2017 via email.

    An Operating Expense Limitation Worksheet (.xls) that contains the FCC's OpEx limitation formula that will be used for HCLS and CAF-BLS (formerly ICLS) payments beginning in January 2017, as well as Notes on FCC OpEx Limits are now available on USAC's High Cost Program Search Tools page.

    The worksheet allows carriers settling on a cost basis to calculate potential OpEx adjustments by entering expense data for any 12-month data period to be evaluated.

    Average schedule companies can use the worksheet to see their maximum allowable OpEx, but any potential cost adjustments will be calculated through the average schedule formulas similar to the existing corporate operations expense limits.

    9/12/2016FCC Releases FY2017 Eligible Services List


    On Monday, September 12, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission issued an FCC Order (DA 16-1023) releasing the Eligible Services List for Funding Year 2017.

    9/9/2016Update about OpEx limits under HCLS and CAF-BLS mechanisms


    In the Rate of Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted limits on operating expenses (OpEx) eligible for support under the HCLS and CAF-BLS High Cost Program support mechanisms.

    USAC has completed the determination of OpEx limits on a carrier basis. If your carrier is affected, you should have received an email with details about your OpEx limits.

    Need help? Contact us

    9/8/2016Available Now: Updated NLAD API Specification Document


    An updated API Specification document which reflects the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Reform Order changes is now available in the pre-production environment. The updated document can be found under the "Reports and Tools" section when logged in to NLAD.

    The pre-production environment can be accessed using your NLAD login credentials. 

    This document is designed to prepare NLAD API users for upcoming Lifeline Program enhancements, as described in the Lifeline Reform Order. These enhancements are highlighted in this document, under the "API Changes" section. 

    The updated document should only be used for API planning/development purposes. This should not replace the current Specification document; version 2.8.3, available in the production environment.

    9/1/2016Invitation to Webinar: New Funding Request Filing Window Periods


    Join us for a webinar on September 8 to learn more about the RHC Program's filing window periods, and what the November 30 deadline means for you. 

    Register Now: New Funding Request Filing Window Periods + Other Program Updates Webinar
    Thursday, September 8, 2016, 2:00 PM ET

    During the webinar, we'll also share updates about newly-eligible Skilled Nursing Facilities, funding information, and changes to the FY2017 application forms.

    8/30/2016Invitation to E-rate Program Applicant Trainings


    Join USAC at an all-day Applicant Training for schools, libraries, and consortia that apply to the Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program. Each training is identical; please select only one.

    Register early to secure your spot - these complimentary events are very popular and have limited space.
     

    8/26/2016Additional Filing Window Periods Announced


    Due to rapid and unprecedented growth in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, USAC and the FCC believe demand for funding may exceed the $400M cap of available funding in Funding Year (FY) 2016.  Demand for support has been growing steadily, and requests in FY2015 were at an historic high of $377.64M. As such, the FCC has announced a schedule for two additional filing window periods for FY2016 and an initial filing window period for FY2017. 


    While these filing window periods will not affect the $400 million cap, they do provide a greater opportunity for HCPs filing within a filing window period to get some support, rather than none at all, even at the point where demand exceeds the cap. Absent such filing window periods, all RHC funding requests would be subject to the “first-come, first-served” approach that is currently in place and, should the $400 million cap be met, subsequently filed HCP requests would be cut off from RHC Program funding.  Such a flash cut may be particularly difficult for those RHC participants who have relied on RHC Program funds for many years. With the filing window period approach in place, all qualifying funding requests received within a filing window period are guaranteed some funding even if the $400 million cap is exceeded during the filing window period. In this way, the use of filing window periods facilitates the distribution of future funding in an equitable manner.  


    Next Filing Window Period for FY2016
    The next Filing Window Period for FY2016 will take place September 1, 2016 – November 30, 2016. Submit your funding requests during this filing window period to ensure full or partial funding. There are two funding scenarios possible for this second window:

    • If the total funding requests (including those filed prior to this filing window period) do not exceed the $400 million annual funding cap, all qualifying funding requests filed during the window period will receive 100% funding. If this is the case, there will be a third filing window, from February 1 – April 30, 2017.   We will not accept funding requests (i.e., FCC Forms 462 and 466) between filing windows (December 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017).
    • If the total funding requests exceed the annual cap by the close of the filing window, all applicants will receive a pro-rated percentage of the funding they requested, based on the total amount of funding requested during the filing window. If this is the case, no additional funding requests will be accepted for FY2016 after the end of this filing window.

    Status of Requests Received Before the Next FY2016 Filing Window Period Begins
    Funding requests (i.e. FCC Forms 466 and Forms 462) submitted before September 1, the opening date of the next filing window period, will be considered received on a “first-come, first-served” basis.


    More Information
    Read the FCC’s Public Notice and visit the Filing Window Periods for FY2016 web page for more information. The RHC Program is also holding a webinar to explain factors and scenarios in the new filing window period system. Register for the webinar today. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the RHC Help Desk via email or (800) 453-1546.
       


    8/19/2016August 2016 HC Reporter Issued


    The August 2016 HC Reporter is now available. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    8/17/2016Preliminary Eligible Census Blocks for CAF Phase II Auction Available


    On August 10, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing a preliminary list and map of census blocks that have been deemed initially eligible for the Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II auction. The list  and the map are on the FCC website. Notifications of additional coverage data are due by August 31, 2016.

    FCC Issues Compliance Guide for RoR USF Obligations, Reporting
    On August 11, 2016, the FCC issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide describing the service and reporting obligations for rate-of-return (RoR) carriers that voluntarily elect, on a state-level basis, to receive CAF A-CAM model-based support or that choose to remain on legacy mechanisms. The guide details various performance, deployment, and reporting obligations for all RoR carriers receiving High Cost Program support, including speed, latency, data usage, buildout, reporting, certification, recordkeeping, interconnection, and pricing.

    FCC Releases Minor Corrections to A-CAM
    On August 15, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice with minor changes to the reports showing the model-based Connect America Fund support amounts offered to rate-of-return carriers originally released on August 3, 2016. Specifically, the report now includes a revised support amount for Fremont Telecom and corrections to the short names previously assigned to seven study areas. No other changes were made and all other companies’ support amounts remain the same. 

    8/12/2016Weekly Service Provider Webinars Begin August 16


    Beginning August 16, 2016, USAC will host weekly webinars for service providers each Tuesday from noon to 1:00 PM ET.

    These webinars replace the weekly Tuesday conference calls (currently held from noon to 1:00 PM ET) and the monthly webinars (currently held on the first Wednesday of the month from 3:00 to 4:00 PM ET).

    All service providers are invited to attend the weekly Tuesday webinars, which will cover E-rate Program updates and information relevant to service providers. Registration each week is complimentary, and required. We look forward to having you join us!

    How to Register for a Webinar 
    Visit the Service Provider Webinar page on our website, or use the link in your reminder/agenda email to register. You must register separately for each week’s webinar. Doing so will allow you to submit questions and receive the agenda in advance. If you don't have a question to submit in advance, you can simply register at the time that you log in and view the agenda at that time.

    After you register, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar, including a personalized URL. Please do not forward your confirmation email to others; the URL it contains is unique to you. To share the event with others, forward the entire reminder/agenda email from USAC or direct them to the Monthly Webinars web page.

    Tips for Joining Your First Webinar
    USAC recommends logging in a few minutes early for the first webinar to allow extra time to connect to the webinar service.

    When you join for the first time, you'll be prompted to download and run a file called "CitrixLauncher.exe." After you download this file, it will be faster to join future webinars. For more details, visit instructions to download the launcher file on the GoToWebinar support website.

    To join the webinar on your mobile device, download the free GoToMeeting App (available for iPhone, Android, and Windows) in advance for quick access.

    8/12/2016Save the Date! E-rate Program Applicant Training


    Mark your calendars! Registration will be opening soon for the E-rate Program Applicant Trainings. These full-day trainings are intended for schools, libraries, and consortia that apply to the Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program. 

    More details and registration will be available soon in the Training & Outreach section of our website. To be notified when registration is available, make sure you're subscribed to the SL News Brief.

    2016 training locations and dates: 

    • Washington, DC - Monday, September 26, 2016 
    • Orlando, FL - Thursday, October 6, 2016 
    • Houston, TX - Friday, October 14, 2016 
    • Philadelphia, PA - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 
    • Minneapolis, MN - Tuesday, November 1, 2016 
    • St. Louis, MO - Thursday, November 10, 2016 
    • Seattle, WA - Wednesday, November 16, 2016 
    • Los Angeles, CA - Friday, November 18, 2016 

    8/12/2016498/499 Spotlight Newsletter 3Q2016 Issued


    The 3Q2016 498/499 Spotlight newsletter is now available. The 498/499 Spotlight newsletter is designed to provide important, up-to-date information about the FCC Form 498 and FCC Form 499 including news, deadlines, and filing best practices for service providers. 

    To sign up to receive the 498/499 Spotlight newsletter via email, visit the subscription center.