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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.

1/13/2017E-rate Client Service Bureau Closed: Monday, January 16


In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Schools and Libraries Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB) will be closed on Monday, January 16. CSB will reopen Tuesday, January 17 for regular hours of 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

1/13/2017E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Saturday, January 14


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 6:00-9:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 14 for 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.

1/13/2017RESOLVED - E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Currently Down


RESOLVED - The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site is currently unavailable. USAC is working to resolve this service disruption and will provide an update when the issue has been resolved. We apologize for any inconvenience.

1/13/2017Elect A-CAM by January 19 or Remain with High Cost Legacy Funding


Carriers have until 5:30 PM EST on Thursday, January 19, 2017, to notify the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they elect to receive High Cost Program support based on the Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM). Carriers can make this election on a state-by-state basis. 

No action is required if carriers wish to continue to receive support from reformed legacy mechanisms, including Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS) and High Cost Loop Support (HCLS), if applicable. If a carrier fails to submit any final election letter by the January 19, 2017 deadline, it will remain on legacy support.

To Select A-CAM Support
To elect A-CAM support, carriers must email the FCC at ConnectAmerica@fcc.gov and indicate their A-CAM election in the email, along with specific state elections (if applicable). Elections will be considered timely if the FCC receives them by 5:30 PM EST on January 19, 2017. (Note: please see 47 CFR Section 0.403, 1.7). Carriers should not mail a hard copy of their election letter to the FCC.

Carriers submitting election letter emails will receive an e-mail confirmation receipt from the FCC.  Should carriers not receive this receipt, they should contact the FCC, via email or via phone at (202) 418-7400, no later than 4:00 PM EST on January 19, 2017. Confirmation of receipt does not constitute authorization to receive A-CAM support.

Background on A-CAM
The Rate-of-Return Order allows carriers to elect the new A-CAM model, which provides a set amount of monthly support over 10 years, or remain with a reformed version of legacy support mechanisms, including CAF-BLS and HCLS. After receiving initial carrier elections by November 1, the FCC took a number of steps to address high demand for A-CAM support. 

Those steps include allocating an additional $50 million annually to the A-CAM budget and making revised offers to 191 carriers that previously elected A-CAM. The methodology used to calculate the revised offers reduces support by varying percentages based on how many locations in a carrier’s eligible service territory still lack access to broadband speeds of 10 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabit per second upstream. Carriers that accept the revised offer of support must agree to meet the terms of the original A-CAM offer if additional support becomes available in 2017 to fund the original offers.

More Resources
For more information, please visit our Rate of Return Reform Order web page. If you have any questions, please contact us at HC Questions.

1/13/2017RESOLVED - NLAD Intermittent Service Disruptions


RESOLVED - The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) is experiencing intermittent system disruptions.

We are working to resolve the issue and will communicate as soon as it has been resolved.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

1/13/2017No Additional Filing Windows for FY2016; FY2017 Filing Window to Run From March 1-June 30, 2017


No Additional Filing Window Periods for Funding Year 2016  

Due to an extraordinarily high demand for Rural Health Care (RHC) Program funds in Funding Year 2016 (FY2016), there will not be a third filing window period and no more funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) will be accepted for FY2016. Current projections show that the total dollar value of all qualifying funding requests received will either meet or slightly exceed the program’s $400 million annual cap. 
 
While FY2016 is closed to new funding requests, My Portal continues to accept Telecom Program FCC Form 467 (Connection Certification Form) and Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program FCC Form 463 (Invoice and Request for Disbursement Form) for applicants approved for funding in FY2016.
 
           What This Means for Applicants:

  • If the final total dollar value of all qualifying funding requests does not exceed the $400M annual funding cap during the second filing window period for FY2016, all qualifying requests will receive 100% of the requested funding.
  • If the final total dollar value of all qualifying funding requests exceeds the $400M annual cap during the second filing window period for FY2016, all qualifying funding requests will receive a pro-rated percentage of the total funds available during the second filing window period, based on the total amount of funding requested during the second filing window period.
  • Those qualifying requests filed prior to the second filing window period will receive 100% of the requested funding.


 Funding Year 2017 Initial Filing Window Period March 1 - June 30, 2017 

The initial filing window period for Funding Year 2017 (FY2017) will be from March 1 – June 30, 2017, rather than February 1 – April 30, as previously stated. 

Why delay the filing window period start date and extend the close date?
The delay of the initial filing window period start date and extension of the close date will allow applicants additional time to conduct their competitive bidding processes. It will also grant more time for new applicants, including the newly eligible skilled nursing facilities(SNFs), to familiarize themselves with program requirements, obtain eligibility determinations for the RHC Program, and apply for RHC Program funding.


Do applicants have to wait until March to get started?
No. Applicants can start submitting other necessary forms for FY2017 (FCC Forms 460, 461, or 465) before the filing window period opens, and the RHC Program strongly recommends doing so. However, applicants must wait until the start of the initial filing window period for FY2017 on March 1 to submit their FCC Forms 462 (for the HCF Program) or FCC Forms 466 (for the Telecom Program).


Applicants that submitted an FCC Form 461 or FCC Form 465 but did not submit a corresponding FCC Form 462 or FCC Form 466 for FY2016 will need to submit a new FCC Form 461 or FCC Form 465 for FY2017 if they do not meet an HCF Program competitive bidding exemption.


What is the likelihood of additional filing window periods for FY2017?
At this time, USAC is opening an initial filing window period for FY2017 from March 1 – June 30, 2017. If the total dollar value of all qualifying funding requests received during the first filing window period for FY2017 does not exceed the cap, USAC will provide notice about any subsequent filing window periods for FY2017, based on its assessment of the total qualifying funding requested in the initial filing window period and the amount of available funding still remaining.


More Resources
Please visit our filing window period web page for more information about filing windows periods and pro-ration or contact RHC-Assist@usac.org with questions.


1/13/2017News Brief Issued


The 01/13/2017 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.

1/12/2017NLAD Release Version 3.1.0


NLAD version 3.1.0 has been released into the Production Environment today, January 12, 2017. The following system enhancement has been included in this release:

Addition of Filter to Detail Active Subscriber Report in User Interface (UI)
NLAD users can now filter the "Detail Active Subsciber Report" by Anniversary Month when viewing this report through the NLAD UI.

1/12/2017Service Disruption with Online FCC Form 497 (last updated 11:30 AM ET)


USAC is still working to resolve the service disruption with the online FCC Form 497.

Due to this extended system outage, we are again extending the deadline to file for the December data month to 11:59 PM ET on Wednesday, January 11 Thursday, January 12.

We sincerely appreciate your continued patience and will provide another update at 3:00 PM ET today.

Update 1/10/17 3:00 PM ET: We are still testing an update to the system and will provide another update at 5:00 PM ET.

Update 1/10/17 5:00 PM ET:  USAC is still working to resolve the service disruption. We are again extending the filing deadline to 11:59 PM on Thursday, January 12. We will provide an update tomorrow, January 11, at 1:00 PM ET.

Update 1/11/17 1:00 PM ET: The online FCC Form 497 is still experiencing intermittent service disruptions. Some service providers were able to successfully file and certify their forms today; users are welcome to attempt filing their form but may still encounter problems. The online FCC Form 497 will be unavailable from 8:00 PM ET today until 8:00 AM ET tomorrow. The submission deadline remains 11:59 PM ET on January 12. We will provide an update tomorrow morning.

Update 1/12/17 11:30 AM ET: USAC made improvements to E-File overnight, and most users can submit their forms online. If you encounter a disruption while filing, please continue attempting to submit your filing throughout the day. If you are unable to complete your submission by the end of the day, contact us via email and we will provide assistance on an individual basis. 

1/6/2017How to File Successfully in HUBB


On January 5, 2017, USAC held a webinar "Successfully Filing Broadband Deployment Data with USAC". A recording of the webinar and a copy of the slide deck are now available on the website.

1/5/2017Form 497 Certification Window for December Data Month Extended to Thursday, January 12


Update: The extended deadline for the FCC Form 497 December data month is now Thursday, January 12, 2017.

* * * * * * * * * *

Some users are continuing to experience issues filing their FCC Form 497 online through E-File.

We have isolated the problem and are working to implement a fix as soon as possible. The system will be fully functional by close of business on Thursday, January 5.

Once again, we sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. We recognize that this disruption may have caused an undue burden on your business processes and we assure you that we are working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

In response to this event, forms submitted and certified through 11:59 pm on Tuesday, January 10 will be included in the January disbursement.

If you have any questions, please continue to contact us via email.

1/5/2017E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, January 8


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 8 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.

1/4/2017Issue Resolved: FCC Form 497 in E-File


Earlier today, E-File users reported a problem with the new version of FCC Form 497 for the December 2016 data month.

USAC has resolved the issue, and now the form is working properly in E-File. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

If you continue to experience issues, please contact us via email for assistance.

1/3/2017RESOLVED: NLAD Service Issue - Viewing Reports in NLAD


This issue has been resolved.

USAC is working to resolve an issue that is causing users to encounter a "Service Unavailable" response when attempting to view reports in NLAD. 

We apologize for any inconvenience and will communicate when the issue has been fully resolved.

1/1/2017Reminder! New FCC Form 497 Beginning January 1


Beginning in January 2017, service providers should use the new FCC Form 497 when filing for the December 2016 data month and later (original filings and revisions for November 2016 and all prior months should continue using the earlier version of the form).

Changes to the form include:

Service types added: "Voice," "Broadband" and "Bundled": To claim support for a bundled offering, the service offerings for both voice and broadband need to meet the applicable minimum service standards as outlined in 47 CFR section 54.408. If only one of the service offerings meets the appropriate minimum service standards, then the subscriber should be included as either voice or broadband based on the qualifying service offering. 

Fields removed: Filer 499 ID, Technology Type (Wireline, Wireless), ETC Designation Type (Lifeline Only, High Cost/Low Income), "Deferred Interest" under Tribal Link Up, and the TLS Data Field.

Please visit the Lifeline Program Forms page to download the updated version of the form. Newly-updated FCC Form 497 forms and resources include:

If you have any questions about the FCC Form 497, please contact us via email for assistance.

12/30/2016RHC Forms Enhancements Live January 1, 2017


On January 1, 2017, the RHC Program Forms, which expired on December 31, 2016, will be replaced with new OMB-approved forms. These changes will be reflected in My Portal and you will notice minor changes. These new fields promote alignment between the programs, ensuring that the same data is collected, such as a new entry field for your organization’s website and enhanced document uploading capabilities.

These changes will apply to both FY2016 and FY2017 forms. If you started a form in calendar year 2016, the system will automatically pre-populate the new forms with your saved information on January 1, 2017, but you may have to enter additional information for new mandatory fields before submitting.

Please note that we continue to update forms instructions to better align the HCF and Telecom Programs, and will update instructions on both the Forms page on the USAC website and My Portal accordingly. Form instructions or PDF versions of forms that are generated in My Portal to enable applicants to view the data they have entered are for applicants’ reference only, and are not OMB-approved versions of application forms. Forms and instructions posted on the USAC website will be updated in early January to reflect the new forms.

Beginning January 1, 2017, applicants may only submit form data through the online interface and may not submit paper or PDF versions of paper forms. Telecom Program applicants requiring additional assistance with the transition to submission online can contact USAC via email.

For additional information about specific forms updates for the Telecom and HCF Programs, see the 2017 forms enhancements list.

12/30/2016Request EPC Training Site Login Credentials for Conducting FCC Form 486 Demonstrations


You can now request training site login credentials for the purpose of conducting FCC Form 486 demonstrations. Please email us to request a special FCC Form 486 login for an independent school, an independent library, or one of each.

12/30/2016Fourth Quarter 2016 RHC Circuit Issued


The 4Q2016 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

12/28/2016FCC Authorizes Support and Approves Performance Plans for Alaska Plan Participants


On December 21, 2016,  the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1425) authorizing Alaska Plan support for 13 Alaskan rate-of-return carriers. A separate Public Notice (DA 16-1419), approving the performance plans  of the eight wireless providers that elected to participate in the Alaska Plan, was released at the same time. Both documents may be accessed on the Rate-of-Return Reform Order page.

12/28/2016FCC Announces A-CAM Support


On December 20, 2016 the FCC released an Order (FCC 16-178) adopting measures to address the significant demand for A-CAM support. At the same time, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1422) authorizing 35 rate-of-return companies to receive more than $51 million annually in A-CAM support  and announced offers of revised A-CAM support amounts to 191 rate-of-return companies. Both documents may be accessed on the Rate-of-Return Reform Order page.

12/23/2016NLAD Release Version 3.0.4


NLAD Release Version 3.0.4

NLAD version 3.0.4 has been released into the Production Environment today, December 22, 2016. The following system updates were included in this release:

Addition of Port Freeze Validations for Verify/Enroll Transactions
For all "Verify" and "Enroll" transactions, service providers can now confirm if a subscriber is under a port freeze and lookup the eligible date for a transfer (when applicable).

New API Account Functionality for Service Providers in California
California service providers now have the ability to lookup a subscriber to determine if the subscriber is enrolled in NLAD.

New Snapshot Summary Report Fields in User Interface (UI) and API
The "Summary Subscriber Snapshot Report" will now display the total count of all active Tribal and Non-Tribal subscribers in the following fields:


• Non Tribal Voice 
• Non Tribal Broadband 
• Non Tribal Bundled 
• Tribal Voice 
• Tribal Broadband 
• Tribal Broadband


Please note this report now has four (4) additional data fields. Service providers should be prepared to receive a total of nine (9) data fields when submitting an API request for this report.

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

12/23/2016My Portal Outage to Launch Newly Modified Forms: Sunday, January 1, 2017


Rural Health Care’s My Portal will be unavailable from 12:00 AM through 1:30 AM ET on Sunday, January 1, 2017 in order to launch newly modified forms, which among other changes will include newly eligible Skilled Nursing Facilities.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

12/23/2016EPC Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, December 23, 2016-Saturday, December 24, 2016


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from Friday, December 23, 2016 at 9:00 PM ET – until completion of system maintenance on Saturday, December 24, 2016 at 1:00 AM ET. 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.
 

12/21/2016USAC Posts Second Offer for A-CAM Support


On December 20, 2016, USAC posted details of the second offer for A-CAM support, which includes legacy transition payments, to the Rate-of-Return Reform Order section of the website.

12/21/2016Modernization Update: National Verifier Draft Plan, Eligibility Verification, and More


The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

12/20/2016Ombudsman Inquiries Now Must Be Submitted to CSB or through EPC


Effective December 21, 2016, USAC is discontinuing the E-rate Program’s Ombudsman@usac.org email account and will now accept all customer service inquires directly through the Client Service Bureau (CSB). Program inquiries and concerns may also be submitted to USAC through a customer service case in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC).  If you have submitted an inquiry to the Ombudsman account before December 21, 2016, a member of the Ombudsman Office will contact you.

CSB can assist with status updates on your E-rate applications, invoice requests, and address questions regarding the E-rate Program. Contact CSB at (888) 203-8100 between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM ET. Please have any relevant entity and application numbers readily available when you call.

To create a customer service case in EPC:

  • Log in to the EPC Portal.
  • Click on the “Actions” icon on the blue menu bar and chose the “Contact Us” selection.
  • Complete the case information and upload any supporting documents (if applicable).
  • Submit the customer service case and a member from CSB will review your case and then contact you.

12/20/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Tuesday, December 20


Rural Health Care’s My Portal will be unavailable from 9:00 PM through 10:00 PM ET on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 due to system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. We apologize for any inconvenience.

12/19/2016Webinar: How to Be Successful with the HUBB Portal - January 5


Join USAC for a webinar on Thursday, January 5 at 2:00 PM, to prepare for the upcoming launch of the HUBB (High Cost Universal Broadband) portal.

Webinar: How to Be Successful with the HUBB Portal
January 5, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Register Now

Topics

  • An overview of different methods for gathering correct geographic coordinates showing broadband deployment, along with an explanation of the pros and cons of these approaches.
  • A demonstration of a new data validator tool that allows carriers to check the accuracy of their deployment data before officially uploading it to the portal.
  • Answers to questions submitted in advance using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form.
  • Live Q&A

Please note: USAC will not discuss or answer policy questions.

Who should attend
Carriers participating in modernized Connect America programs should attend this webinar.

Reporting Geolocated Data in the HUBB
Starting in 2017, carriers participating in modernized Connect America programs must file deployment data with USAC’s HUBB portal showing where they are building out mass-market, high-speed Internet service by precise location. This information will include latitude and longitude coordinates for every location where service is available, and will eventually be displayed on a public-facing map showing the impact of Connect America funding on broadband expansion throughout rural America. HUBB will be available and ready to accept geolocated deployment data in early 2017, in time for a March 1 filing deadline.

Support
If you have any questions about the event or the HUBB portal, please contact HC Questions.

12/12/2016EPC Training Site Outage Due to System Maintenance: Monday, December 19-23


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Training Site will be unavailable from Monday, December 19 through Friday, December 23 for system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

12/9/2016FCC Releases Public Notice Providing Guidance on Reporting Obligations


On December 8, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1363) providing guidance to Connect America Fund recipients regarding their obligation to report geo-located broadband information and make service milestone certifications to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

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.

12/7/2016NLAD 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.

12/2/2016Production 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.




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.

    11/17/2016High 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.

    11/16/2016NLAD 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.

    11/4/2016Modernization 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.