USAC's Latest News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the universal service programs as they were made throughout the years.
The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) is currently unavailable. We are working to resolve system issues users may encounter today. At this time, users may be unable to log in, or to file, certify, and respond to requests from the Reviews team via the EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience and will keep this space updated with additional updates as they become available.
The FCC released a Public Notice specifying Funding Year (FY) 2015 annual reporting requirements for Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) and Pilot Program consortia.
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 on RHC Program application forms. HCF and Pilot Program consortia must submit to USAC the types of telehealth applications supported by the RHC Program. Pilot Program consortia must also report to USAC the number of competitive bids received and an explanation of how each winning bid was selected. Learn more about annual report requirements and download the Excel template you need to fill out and submit:
Why 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.
Need Help? Contact Us!
For immediate assistance, contact the RHC Program Help Desk via email or call us at (800) 453-1546.
The 06/16/2016 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.
The FCC issued a Public Notice (DA 16-629) directing USAC to fully fund all eligible FY2016 category 1 and category 2 service requests. The FCC stated that there is sufficient funding available to fully meet the E-rate Program’s estimated demand under the current FY2016 cap of $3.939 billion and the $1.9 billion in unused funds from previous funding years.
The Rural Health Care Program has an annual cap of $400 million in total support available for telecommunications and broadband funding for the Telecommunications and Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) programs. As part of the total funding cap, there is also a $150 million cap for upfront payments and multi-year commitments. Requests for funding for both the Telecommunications and HCF programs may be submitted beginning during the initial funding request filing period, March 1 – May 30 prior to the beginning of the funding year, and through the end of funding year. USAC will process all requests until funding is exhausted.
To view the most current funding information as of May 31, 2016, check out the funding information pages for the Telecommunications Program and HCF Program.
In order to keep you informed about progress towards reaching the funding caps for Funding Year (FY) 2013, FY2014, FY2015, and FY2016, RHC Program staff will continue to update these funding cap progress web pages. Estimated commitments are based on HCP funding requests, and are subject to change after USAC review of forms.
As announced in a Public Notice (DA 16-601), released on May 31, 2016, the FCC Form 481 has been OMB-approved. As such, the certify button and bulk certification options are now active and carriers can make their final certifications.
This filing is required for all ETCs participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs with the exception of participants in Phase I Mobility Fund [section 54.313(k)]. FCC Form 481 is due Friday, July 1, 2016.
FCC Form 481 Templates and Resources
Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) can log into E-File and access the FCC Form 481. USAC has also posted the FCC Form 481 Template (PDF version), filing instructions, and all necessary upload templates to our website.
While the names of these files on our website have been updated to reflect the approval of the form, the content has not changed as a result of the approval. These can all be found on the High Cost Forms and Lifeline Forms pages.
In addition, a recording of the webinar held about this year's FCC Form 481 submission may be accessed on the USAC website.
To claim RHC Program funding for Funding Year 2015 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016), healthcare providers (HCPs) must complete their funding request forms by Thursday, June 30, 2016.
Submit the Form by June 30
To meet the deadline, you must submit a complete form by June 30. USAC highly recommends submitting the form as early as possible.
USAC’s FY2016 Demand Estimate for the E-rate Program is $3.609 billion. Under this estimate, $2.330 billion is for Category 1 services and $1.279 billion for Category 2 services. This estimate is based on total funds requested during the first FCC Form 471 filing window, $3.175 billion, and a projected amount of $434 million for the second filing window.
Funding Year 2016 runs from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.
On June 3, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-618) providing guidance to price cap carriers that accepted Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase I incremental support regarding upcoming validation of compliance for Phase I incremental support. In response to informal inquiries from CAF Phase I incremental support recipients, the FCC provided guidance about the types of documentation that recipients should be prepared to produce upon request. Examples of potentially relevant documentation would include, but not be limited to:
• Engineering studies,
• Construction schedules,
• Records of plant placed in service,
• Network maps,
• Advertising materials, and/or
• Customer subscription records.
Carriers should be prepared to produce their capital improvement plan from the time period immediately pre-dating the acceptance of CAF Phase I incremental support for either round. Carriers also should be prepared to produce documentation demonstrating the steps taken to determine an area was not already served according to the then-current National Broadband Map or slated to become served as a BIP or BTOP project, to the best of their knowledge. Carriers that accepted funding in the second round to deploy to locations shown on the then current National Broadband Map as already served by them with 3 Mbps/768 kbps should be prepared to produce documentation that those locations were served at the time of acceptance through a copper-fed digital subscriber line access multiplexer.
Join us to hear updates about the Lifeline Program, including the 2016 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 carriers throughout the industry.
Register now for the Lifeline Program Update Webinar on June 8, 2016 @ 3:00 PM ET.
During the webinar, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss:
We look forward to hearing your questions and comments!
Q&A and Event Resources
If we don't have time to answer your question during the live event, or need to conduct research to provide an answer, we'll post a list of questions and answers next to the recording. Visit the Lifeline Program Update Webinars page to find the webinar recording, slide deck, and list of questions and answers for each event.
More information is available on the Lifeline Program Trainings & Outreach section of our website. Please submit questions and comments in advance to the Lifeline Program. For webinar assistance, email USAC Outreach.
On Thursday, May 26, 2016, the Duplicate Resolution De-Enroll Reports for carriers in Puerto Rico will be available in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). The report will include results from the duplicate subscriber selection process that ended May 18, 2016.
USAC will de-enroll subscriber records that were not selected on Thursday, May 26, 2016, the same day the report becomes available.
Carriers must de-enroll subscriber records listed on the Duplicate Resolution De-Enroll Report from their own internal company listings by Friday, June 3, 2016.
For additional information, visit the Duplicate Subscriber Resolution for Puerto Rico page on our website.
How to Pull the Duplicate Resolution De-Enroll Report From NLAD
Be sure to use Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer to view the report:
The FCC Form 471 application filing window for schools and school districts closes this week at 11:59 PM EDT on Thursday, May 26. If you need assistance, call the Client Service Bureau (CSB) as soon as possible. Be mindful of the times they are busiest (see below).
The Client Service Bureau (CSB) will be open the following hours during the last week of the window:
Remember that the following times are our busiest:
We encourage you to call with questions as soon as possible so that we can provide answers promptly.
Only two weeks remain for healthcare providers (HCPs) to start their RHC Program competitive bidding period in time to receive a full 12 months of funding for the upcoming funding year, FY2016 (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017).
To meet the deadline to be eligible for a full 12 months of funding, USAC must receive, process, and post your service request form by June 2. If you haven't submitted this form for FY2016, please do so as soon as possible! Note: HCPs can submit the service request forms at any time during the funding year, but if the form posts after June 2, support will be pro-rated.
*Healthcare providers with competitive bidding exemptions as individual HCPs or competitive bidding exemptions as consortia do not need to submit these forms.
Allow 5+ Days for USAC to Process and Post Your Form
Processing times vary, but, in general, it takes USAC 5+ business days to receive, process, and post a service request form by June 2 (complex applications, including consortium service requests and individual HCP service requests with RFPs, can take longer). Service request forms are processed in the order in which they are received.
Because of this, we encourage you to submit these forms as soon as possible. If you submit the form on May 30 or later, it most likely will not be processed and posted by June 2.**
**Note: Why June 2? FY2016 begins on July 1, 2016, and HCPs are required to complete a 28-day competitive bidding process to receive RHC Program funding. To complete the 28-day period by July 1 (the first day of the funding year), your form must be processed and posted by June 2.
This week, USAC is rolling out some changes to the web content around application filing. Our team has heard from many of you that critical information is hard to find and that certain tasks that make sense to legacy users, such as "Apply Online," are very confusing to new users. So we've recreated the "E-rate Productivity Center" page as the "Apply for E-rate" page.
Now, you can access:
Explore the new Apply for E-rate page now.
We've also made some changes to the FY2016 Filing Window page. Go here to learn filing date updates, access all EPC filing guidance, and explore our blog.
We hope these improvements help you, but we also welcome any additional feedback you may have on these pages.
On April 27, 2016, the FCC released the Lifeline Modernization Order. Join USAC on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, for a webinar to discuss the changes in the order.
Lifeline Modernization Order Overview Webinar
Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 10:00 AM ET
During the webinar, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss:
We look forward to hearing your questions and comments. Please submit them in advance of the webinar on the registration form, or via email.
Starting on May 11, the Lifeline Program will hold a monthly webinar to share updates about the program and connect with participants and stakeholders. If needed, we'll adjust the schedule to hold webinars more frequently.
To foster a collaborative discussion with our audience, we will accept verbal questions during the live event. The moderator will call on attendees who wish to ask a question one at a time during the open Q&A.
To ask a question, you will need a microphone or telephone. If you don't have a computer microphone, once you're in the webinar session use the "audio" section of the webinar control panel to switch to a telephone.
Can't Make It?
This webinar will be recorded and posted to the Lifeline Program's Online Learning Library within two business days of the event.
On April 27, 2016, the FCC released the Lifeline Modernization Order (the Order).
An overview of some of the changes can be found in this FCC News Release.
USAC is currently reviewing the Order and will provide more information as it becomes available. In the upcoming weeks, we will host a webinar series to discuss the impacts of the Order, and kick off a collaborative dialog with our stakeholders around implementation alternatives and considerations.
Join Us: Lifeline Modernization Order Webinar May 11
Join us on Wednesday, May 11, for a webinar that will discuss impacts of the Order.
Register Here: Lifeline Modernization Order Webinar
Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 10:00 AM EDT
After the webinar, "Overview of the FCC's Rate-of-Return Reforms" (presented April 4, 2016), the FCC prepared written answers to some of the questions submitted during the event.
The FCC is still reviewing some of the questions received during the webinar, and will update the FAQ document with additional answers over the next few weeks.
Thank you again for your thoughtful questions during the webinar. Resources from the event are available in USAC's Online Learning Library. And if you have additional questions about the Rate-of-Return reforms, please send them to HC Questions.
Due to the FY2016 filing window extension, the E-Rate Program trainings have been rescheduled from the original dates in May to the following dates in June. Note that the hotel venues have not changed:
USAC is sensitive to the inconvenience that this rescheduling may cause, and is aware that some participants will have to adjust travel plans. We apologize for this change and for the short notice. Our goal is to provide you with the most helpful information to ensure successful participation in the E-rate Program. To fulfill that goal, rescheduling the training was necessary.
By late June, we will be much better suited to provide:
A note to those who registered prior to April 21 for a training:
If you registered prior to April 21 for a training, your registration has been automatically transferred to the new June date for the city you selected. You will receive information via email about this transfer. If you had already made your hotel reservations, your reservation will be transferred automatically; therefore, if you are unable to attend on the new date, please contact the hotel to cancel your room reservation.
If you have any follow-up questions or concerns, please contact USAC Training.
Today, USAC announced that the FY2016 application filing window is extended to allow applicants more time to submit their applications.
First, we are extending the window for all applicants by four weeks with a new closing date of May 26, 2016. With the recent deployment of bulk upload templates and additional updates and solutions coming over the next few weeks, we believe that the IT systems will be sufficiently stable to allow most applicants, and all schools and school districts, sufficient time to file their applications by May 26.
Second, when the window closes on May 26, we will open a second filing window for consortia and libraries, which will close on July 21, 2016. We recognize that consortia and libraries are unable to complete their applications until their member/related school district(s) finalize their discount rates in the system.
Please read the special edition News Brief for more information.
Spring is a critical time for health care providers participating in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, because important deadlines are coming up for both Funding Year (FY) 2015 and Funding Year (FY) FY2016.
FY2015 Funding Requests Due June 30, 2016
Health care providers are required to submit their funding requests for FY2015 (July 2015 - June 2016) by Thursday, June 30, 2016.
USAC recommends submitting these forms as soon as possible so there's enough time to seek help if you need it, respond to USAC's questions about your application, and correct any mistakes before June 30. And, the earlier you submit the form, the faster USAC can process your request and issue the funding.
Start FY2016 Applications As Soon as Possible
There's no time like the present to start your RHC Program application for FY2016 (July 2016 -June 2017). The earlier you apply, the more likely it is that your form will be processed and posted by June 2, the last posting day to receive a full 12 months of funding.
Processing times vary, but in general, it takes USAC 5 to 15 days to receive, process and post a form by June 2 (complex applications can take longer). Because of this, we encourage health care providers to file these forms as soon as possible.
Health care providers can start their application at any time; if the form is posted after June 2, support will be pro-rated. Health care providers with competitive bidding exemptions do not need to file these forms.
USAC attempted to contact Lifeline subscribers in Puerto Rico that were identified as having more than one benefit with a letter containing instructions about how to select a single Lifeline Program service provider. USAC has determined that subscribers in Puerto Rico need additional time to make their selection, due to the letter response rate.
The call in period will now end Wednesday, May 18, 2016.
Instead of sending subscribers a reminder postcard, USAC will conduct two automated calls (in Spanish, with the option to select English), reminding them to choose their preferred carrier. The first call will occur the week of April 11, 2016 and the second call will occur the week of May 9, 2016.
Carriers that participate in the Lifeline Program are required to recertify the eligibility of each of their Lifeline subscribers annually.
Carriers can elect USAC to conduct the re-certification process on their behalf, at no cost. If you'd like to elect USAC, notify us by Monday, May 2, 2016.
Ready to Elect USAC?
To elect USAC to conduct the Lifeline Program recertification process on your behalf, complete the recertification election spreadsheet and send it to USAC via email by Monday, May 2, 2016.
Carriers that did not elect USAC last year and do not make an election by May 2 will be responsible for conducting their own recertification process.
Benefits of Electing USAC to Perform Recertification
There are many benefits to electing USAC to conduct the recertification process on your behalf. By electing USAC, you will:
USAC-elected recertification has a proven track record; the recertification rate for carriers who elected USAC in 2015 was 73%.
How USAC-Elected Recertification Works
USAC-elected recertification is a joint effort between USAC and the carrier. Success of the recertification process is dependent on the carrier's active participation.
USAC may ask the carrier to distribute billing inserts (provided by USAC) and help familiarize subscribers with USAC and the recertification process. More details are available on the Recertification Election Option page.
Important note: USAC does not provide live customer support during recertification. Subscribers will be directed to the carrier to troubleshoot any issues with the recertification process.
On April 28, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-378) announcing the release of a new version of the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) and commencing the challenge process to competitive coverage. Comments to challenge coverage data for competitors will be due April 28, 2016.
The Search Posted Services tools for individual health care providers and consortia on the Healthcare Connect Fund website are now combined into a single search tool; service providers may now search for both individual and consortium postings from a single search tool.
The updated search tool is available here: RHC Program Search Posted Services
Currently, the Search Tools section of our website shows two options under "Search Posted Services" (choose between consortia and individual HCPs). Beginning Wednesday, April 13, the "search posted services" page for consortia will be removed, and search functionality will only be available from the updated search tool.
How to Use the Updated Search Tool
To search for service requests, visit the updated Search Posted Services web page and select either "Individual" or "Consortium" from the "Application Type" drop-down menu.
The search results will show a summary of each healthcare provider whose service request matches the search criteria entered, with the option to view additional information by clicking the "details" hyperlink for the selected HCPs.
For more information about Requests for Services, visit the Respond to Service Requests web page for service providers on the Healthcare Connect Fund Program website.
USAC is pleased to announce that eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) can now log into E-File and access FCC Form 481, the Carrier Annual Reporting Data Collection Form, which is due Friday, July 1, 2016 for Program Year 2017.
FCC Form 481 is required for all ETCs participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs, with the exception of participants who only receive Phase I Mobility Fund (Section 54.313(k)).
USAC has posted drafts of these items on the High Cost Forms and Lifeline Forms pages:
These documents will be posted as drafts until Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval is complete. Upon approval, USAC will post updated versions of these documents and notify carriers.
Carriers May Begin, but Not Certify, FCC Form 481 Filing
Please note that carriers may begin the filing, but will not be able to certify the filing.
Currently, the form and instructions are still pending OMB approval, and as a result, the "certify" button and bulk certify options will be disabled until approval has been made.
USAC will send notification when the "certify" buttons are activated.
Posting the FCC Form 470 (Description of Services Requested and Certification Form) opens the E-rate Program competitive bidding process.
Friday, April 1, 2016, is the last day applicants can post an FY2016 FCC Form 470 in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and meet the 28-day requirement before filing the FCC Form 471 (due April 29). If you are required to file an FCC Form 470 but have not yet done so, please promptly file your form.
These resources are available to assist you:
A pre-production release of a new error message code and description is now implemented in the National Lifeline Accountability Database.
This pre-production release includes:
A summary of this release is available in the Pre-Production Release Notes. The updated API Specifications guide containing the updated error message code and description is now available in NLAD Pre-Production environment.
The pre-production environment will be available for testing and training for this change and will be replicated into the NLAD production environment on or after Monday, April 11, 2016.
Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) can now access the FCC Form 690, the Mobility Fund Phase 1 Annual Report Form, in E-File.
Log in now: FCC Form 690 in E-File
The FCC Form 690 is required for all participants in Phase I Mobility Fund [Section 54.313(k)]. The annual filing is due Friday, July 1, 2016. USAC has also posted the following resources on the High Cost Program Forms page:
Please note that the FCC Form 690 is required for all participants in Phase I Mobility Fund [Section 54.313(k)], including 902 auction winners.