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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.

2/12/2016News Brief Issued


The 02/12/2016 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.

2/9/2016FCC Announces Release of Contributor Annual and Quarterly Filing Forms


The FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-138) announcing the release of the 2016 FCC Form 499-A and instructions as well as the 2016 FCC Form 499-Q and instructions. Copies of all forms and instructions can be found on the FCC's website

Filers are reminded that the FCC Forms 499-A and -Q can only be submitted to USAC online. The 2016 FCC Form 499-A is due April 1, 2016, and we plan to make it available to filers in E-File on or before March 1, 2016. We will make the May 2016 FCC Form 499-Q, due May 2, available online on or before April 1, 2016.


2/8/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: February 8


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance on Monday, February 8 from 9:00-11:59 PM 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. 

2/5/2016Webinar Registration Open! FCC Form 471 Walkthrough and E-rate Program Overview


Join USAC for a series of webinars about the FY2016 filing window, including an overview of the E-rate Program and a detailed walkthrough of how to complete a funding request (FCC Form 471) online in the E-rate Productivity Center.

View Events and Register: All Upcoming Webinar Events
Overview series begins February 16; FCC Form 471 series begins February 23

Can't make it to the webinars? Register anyway, and we’ll send you a link to the recording after the live presentation. The recording will also be posted in the Online Learning Library.

 

2/5/2016First Quarter 2016 LI Program News Issued


The first quarter 2016 issue of LI Program News is now available.

2/4/2016February 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

2/4/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, February 7


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

2/3/2016Special Edition News Brief - Guidance Materials for the FY2016 Application Filing Window


The 02/03/2016 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.

2/3/2016E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: February 4


USAC's E-File system for FCC Forms 498 and 499 filers will be unavailable Thursday, February 4, from 9:00-11:59 PM ET, for system maintenance. The online FCC Forms 498 and 499 will not be accessible for contributors or service providers. During this time, users will be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Forms 498 and 499 online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

2/2/2016Federal Poverty Guidelines Updated for 2016


On January 25, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services published the 2016 Federal Poverty Guidelines in the Federal Register. Lifeline Program carriers should ensure their eligibility materials are updated to reflect the new Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2016. Federal Poverty Guidelines are typically updated each year in late January, and USAC releases a guide set at 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines shortly thereafter. 

2/1/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Monday, February 1


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 9:00-11:59 PM ET, Monday, February 1 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.

1/29/2016USAC Phone/Fax System Outage Due to System Upgrade - January 29 to February 1


USAC will be upgrading our phone system beginning at 6:00 PM ET Friday, January 29.  This will impact USAC's Customer Service  via (888) 641-8722, the RHC Help Desk via (800) 453-1546, the USAC main number, individual employee direct lines, and our fax lines.  Calls and faxes to these numbers will not go through and callers will be unable to reach voicemail.  Our phone system will be available again Monday, February 1 at 7:00 AM.  

The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.

1/29/2016Registration for FCC Form 499-A Webinars Now Available


USAC is presenting three (3) webinars in March 2016 about FCC Form 499-A, the Annual Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet. Visit the Contributors Training & Outreach page to view and register for the events, or sign up here:

March 8: What's New in the 2016 FCC Form 499-A
Changes to the form in 2016, including updated audit tips and new enhancements. Register now

March 10: Accessing the 2016 Form in E-File
An overview of E-File, USAC's online filing system, including a review the E-File interface, how to reset your password, add/remove users, and more. If you haven’t used the E-File system before, or find it difficult, this webinar is for you! Register Now

March 15: Filling Out the 2016 FCC Form 499-A, Line by Line 
An in-depth look at the 2016 FCC Form 499-A, including a discussion of each revenue line. Register now

Recordings will be available following these events in the Contributors Online Learning Library.

All telecommunications providers (including de minimis carriers) are required to submit FCC Form 499-A, which reports historical revenue data from 2015 and is due Friday, April 1, 2016. 

1/29/2016498/499 Spotlight Newsletter 1Q2016 Issued


The 1Q2016 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.

1/28/2016FCC Releases Public Notice Regarding the 2015 Lifeline Reform Order


On January 15, 2015, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-56), announcing OMB approval of several final rule changes from the 2015 Lifeline Reform Order. Updates to the FCC Form 497 Snapshot Date, Eligibility and Dispute Resolution Document Retention, and Resale of Lifeline rules will be published in the Federal Register on or after February 4, 2016.

The following rule change becomes effective once published in the Federal Register:

The following rule changes become effective 180 days from their publication in the Federal Register:

The remaining items in the Public Notice require no action by carriers. For information on the Final Rule changes listed above, please visit our 2015 Lifeline Reform page. USAC will communicate information regarding the remaining proposed rule changes contained in the Public Notice as they become available.

 

1/28/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, January 28


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 9:00-11:00 PM ET, Thursday, January 28 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.

1/26/2016Special Edition News Brief - Dates of the E-rate Funding Year 2016 Application Filing Window


The 01/25/2016 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.

1/25/2016USAC Will Remain Closed on Monday, January 25 Due to Inclement Weather


Due to inclement weather, USAC will remain closed on Monday, January 25 

This closure includes USAC's Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.

1/22/2016USAC Will Close at 12:00 PM ET January 22 Due to Inclement Weather


Due to inclement weather, USAC will close at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, January 22. 

This closure includes USAC's Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.

USAC will re-open on Monday, January 25, 2016, with normal business hours and will respond to all inquiries at that time. Thank you!

1/21/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, January 21


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 7:30-10:30 PM ET, Thursday, January 21, 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.

1/19/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, January 22


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Friday, January 22 from 7:00-7:30 AM ET, due to system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for certain forms online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

1/14/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, January 14


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 11:00 PM, Thursday, January 14 through 1:00 AM ET, Friday, January 15, 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.

1/14/2016Submit Request for Services Forms for FY2016 RHC Program Funding


Healthcare providers can now begin their Rural Health Care (RHC) Program applications in My Portal for Funding Year (FY) 2016, which begins on July 1, 2016.

USAC began accepting FCC Forms 465 and 461 on January 1, 2016, (six months before the start of the funding year) so that applicants have sufficient time for the competitive bidding process.

These forms can be submitted at any time during the funding year for which funding is requested. However, to receive the full 12 months of funding in FY2016, the forms must be posted before June 2, 2016 (to allow 28 days for competitive bidding before the start of the funding year). We highly encourage healthcare providers to submit application forms as early as possible!

Applying for the First Time?
Start by reading about the difference between the Telecom and HCF programs in the RHC Program Brochure under "program comparison." 

For Telecom Program funding, learn about rules and compliance, and familiarize yourself with the program in the Telecom Program Process Overview. We especially recommend reviewing the pages about eligibility, competitive bidding, and evergreen contracts.

For HCF Program funding, learn about rules and compliance, and familiarize yourself with the program in the HCF Program Process Overview. We especially recommend reviewing the pages about eligibility, competitive bidding, and competitive bidding exemptions.

One-on-one appointments are available for first-time applicants! Contact us to request an appointment and get started with the program.

Reminder! Updates to the Rural Areas List
Some healthcare providers that were previously eligible to participate may no longer be eligible for RHC Program funding in FY2016.

The FCC updated the Rural Areas List (Order DA 14-1042, July 2014) to reflect the latest decennial census and most recent nationwide Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) designations. The order did not change the RHC Program's definition of a "rural area;" however, some program participants that were previously considered rural are now non-rural as a result of the update.

To find out if an HCP's rurality changed, visit the Rurality Change web page. HCPs that are newly non-rural will find information about the change in My Portal.

For the Telecom Program:

  • A warning message will appear in the "My Forms" and "My Contracts" tabs informing the applicant that the HCP is non-rural.
  • Applicants will be prevented from submitting new FCC Forms 466 for FY2016.

For the HCF Program:

  • A pop-up warning message will appear when the applicant selects the "Form 460 Revision" button informing the HCP that it is non-rural and the form may be denied.
  • HCPs that are considered non-rural will be prevented from submitting new FCC Forms 461 and FCC Forms 462 for FY2016, based on the eligibility end date.

1/14/2016Webinar Invitation: Get Started with the RHC Program


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program began accepting applications for Funding Year 2016 on January 1, 2016.

If you're new to the RHC Program, thinking about applying for the first time, or need a refresher about the application process and program rules, join us for a webinar to learn the basics about how to participate! 

RHC 101: Intro to the RHC Program
January 28, 2016
2:00 PM ET
Register Now!

If you work with health care providers, you have a unique perspective on their needs and may be working with sites that are eligible, but not currently receiving funding from the Rural Health Care Program. Join us to learn about the program, so you can tell the health care providers you work with how they can reduce their costs of connectivity with RHC Program funding!

This presentation is very similar to the one we presented on November 18. Can't make it to the live presentation? Watch the recording.

1/14/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Monday, January 18


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Monday, January 18, from 7:00-7:30 AM ET, due to system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for certain forms online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

1/14/2016Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau Closed: Monday, January 18


In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Schools and Libraries Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB) will be closed on Monday, January 18. CSB will reopen Tuesday, January 19 for regular hours of 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

1/13/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: January 15-16


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance from Friday, January 15 at 9:00 PM through Saturday, January 16 at 9:00 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. 

1/12/2016Carriers Should Use FCC Form 555 Dated November 2014 to File Their 2015 Recertification Data


The FCC has notified USAC that there will be no changes to the FCC Form 555 for 2015 and that carriers can file their 2015 recertification data to USAC using the FCC Form 555 dated November 2014. Normally, the FCC Form 555 is due on January 31 annually. However, since that falls on a Sunday this year, the form is now due to USAC no later than Monday, February 1, 2016. USAC highly recommends that carriers file online using E-File. An online user guide is available to walk you through the process. For more information, please visit our Recertify Subscribers page.

1/7/2016Special Edition News Brief - Top Five Questions for the Client Service Bureau


The 01/06/2016 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.

1/7/2016January 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

12/31/2015USAC Closed from December 31 at 2:00 PM ET through January 1


In observance of the upcoming holiday, USAC will close at 2:00 PM ET on Thursday, December 31, and remain closed on Friday, January 1, 2016. 

This closure includes the Schools and Libraries Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB), and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk.

USAC will re-open on Monday, January 4, 2016, with normal business hours and will respond to all inquiries at that time. Thank you and happy holidays!

12/29/2015Direct Inward Dialing and Caller ID are No Longer Eligible Services in the HCF Program


Effective immediately, the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program will no longer provide funding for Direct Inward Dialing (DID) and Caller ID (CID) charges for individual health care providers (HCPs).

Because DID and CID are traditional telephone service features that do not enhance access to advanced telecommunications services and information services, DID and CID are not eligible for funding in the HCF Program.

DID and CID Funding in the Telecom Program
DID and CID are eligible for funding in the Telecommunications Program, when submitted with a funding request for the entire telephone service (i.e. DID and CID are not eligible for funding without telephone service). 

This gives all applicants one of two options:

  1. Applicants may request funding for an ISDN PRI circuit in the HCF Program, and request funding for DID or CID charges associated to telephone service for which funding is requested in the Telecommunications Program.
  2. Applicants may request funding for both ISDN PRI and DID or CID charges in the Telecommunications Program.

12/21/2015USAC Closed from December 24 at 2:00 PM ET through December 25


In observance of the upcoming holiday, USAC will close at 2:00 PM ET on Thursday, December 24, and remain closed on Friday, December 25, 2015. 

This closure includes the Schools and Libraries Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB), and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk.

USAC will re-open on Monday, December 28, with normal business hours and will respond to all inquiries at that time. Thank you and happy holidays!

12/17/2015FY2016 FCC Form 471 Window Filing Date Information


As most of you know, this is the time of year we typically announce the window application dates for the coming E-rate Funding Year. We certainly understand the need for this advance notice for planning purposes. As we approach the 2016 Funding Year, we are balancing the benefits of setting specific dates with the desire to deliver the best possible experience for applicants in the new EPC environment.

In our fall trainings, I shared that we were targeting mid-January as the window opening. We are still targeting that time frame for the opening, and I can assure you that the window will open no earlier than January 20th and close no earlier than March 31.

We will announce firm dates in early January based on our progress in development and testing during the next few weeks. We have spent time over the last few months gathering valuable input from a representative sample of our applicant community, and we are working hard to integrate as much of this feedback as possible into the first release of the FCC Form 471. Some of those features include hover text, pre-population of certain fields and on-screen help. These are valuable updates, but they are not completed. Our goal is to make sure that the new FCC Form 471 includes as many of these benefits as possible when the window opens. We apologize for the relative lack of specificity at this point, but hope that the clarification above helps all of you plan and resource appropriately.

In the meantime, we strongly encourage you to take all the important steps possible to prepare for the filing of the FCC Form 471, including posting an FCC Form 470 (as the FCC Form 470 has been available since July) and completing your competitive bidding process. We also encourage you to log on to EPC, make sure your profile information is accurate, and post your FCC Form 470 now, so that you will able to focus on the FCC Form 471 once the window opens.

Thanks very much for your help, patience and understanding as we move toward a better process for all of us.

Sincerely,

Mel Blackwell
Vice President, Schools and Libraries

12/17/2015Apply Online and EPC Outages Due to System Maintenance: Friday, December 18


The Schools and Libraries Program's Apply Online page, including Submit a Question, online forms, and most search tools will be unavailable beginning at 8:00 PM ET Friday, December 18 through 2:00 AM ET Saturday, December 19, 2015, for monthly system maintenance. 

The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 10:00 PM to midnight ET, Friday, December 18 for system maintenance.

During this time for both systems, users will be unable to log in, or to file, certify, and search for certain forms. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

12/17/2015Update to NLAD's TPIV Dispute Resolution Code, T17


The language for code T17 in the "TPIV Dispute Resolution Error Codes" table on the Third Party Identity Verification (TPIV) Resolution page has been updated. 

Effective December 16, 2015, carriers may now use code T17 in NLAD for TPIV dispute resolutions when they receive confirmation of a subscriber’s identity from a state’s eligibility database or administrator which confirms the subscriber’s date of birth and/or SSN4 or Tribal ID. This update allows carriers to validate specific TPIV error messages such as SSN4 specific errors, date of birth specific errors, or for instances where both the SSN4 and date of birth must be confirmed, as applicable, for the TPIV dispute request.

12/16/2015FCC Form 555 Expected To Be Available January 8, 2016


In preparation for this year's FCC Form 555, USAC is undergoing enhancements to its Online FCC Form 555 filing system and paper submission process. This year's form is expected to be available on or before January 8, 2016, with a due date of January 31, 2016. Please wait until the FCC Form 555 is available prior to reporting recertification data for the 2015 calendar year.

If you would like to submit a filing or revision for the 2014 data year, please submit the completed 2014 FCC Form 555 to LI Verifications.

12/15/2015FCC Seeks Comments on Proposed Changes to the 2016 FCC Forms 499-A/Q


The FCC is seeking comment on proposed revisions to the FCC Form 499-A and the accompanying instructions to be used in 2016 to report 2015 revenues and the FCC Form 499-Q and accompanying instructions to be used in 2016 to report projected collected revenues on a quarterly basis. The proposed changes, as well as detailed instructions on how to comment are included in Public Notice DA 15-1361. Comments are due to the FCC on December 24, 2015.

12/15/2015Monthly Updates on Progress Towards Annual Funding Cap


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 November 30, 2015, 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, and FY2015, 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. 

12/14/2015FCC Announces First Quarter 2016 Contribution Factor Increase to 18.2 Percent


The Federal Communications Commission released a Public Notice (DA 15-1412) announcing that the proposed universal service contribution factor for the first quarter (January-March) of 2016 will be 0.182 or 18.2 percent.

12/11/2015E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, December 13


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 7:30-10:30 PM EST, Sunday, December 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.

12/11/2015CAF Phase II Location Adjustments Due December 31, 2015


This is a reminder for all Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II recipients to submit any adjustments to the number of locations in a given state as determined by the model. 

As described in FCC Order 14-190, paragraph 39, carriers must identify any specific census blocks where they do not intend to meet their deployment commitments, with those blocks covering at least two percent of their total eligible locations in a state, by December 31, 2015

  • Carriers that elect to take advantage of this flexibility may identify an additional number of the eligible locations left unserved at of the end of the term, up to three percent. 
  • Carriers who do not elect to take advantage of this flexibility are reminded that they will be obliged to deliver on 100 percent of the baseline. The census blocks that carriers elect not to deploy to will become eligible for support in the competitive bidding process. 

Submit Location Adjustments to USAC by December 31
By the deadline, carriers must submit the following information via email:

  • State
  • SAC
  • Carrier name
  • Census block

Please list all of your census blocks and identify which are part of the original award that you will continue to serve, which you are removing, and which are being added in place of those being removed.

Carriers who are not electing to take advantage of this flexibility are asked to send notice via email to confirm that they will continue to serve the census blocks indicated in the original award. 

12/9/2015December 2015 HC Reporter Issued


The December 2015 HC Reporter is now available. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

12/3/2015Special Edition 498/499 Spotlight Issued


Special Edition Spotlight newsletter is now available. The Spotlight newsletter provides information about recent changes to the FCC Form 498. 

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

12/1/2015USAC and the FCC Seek Your Feedback on the RHC Program


As part of our ongoing goal to understand stakeholder needs, we are seeking feedback from you, RHC Program participants and potential participants, about your experiences applying for funding under the Telecommunications and Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) programs.

What parts of the application process are challenging? How can the application process be improved? We welcome your feedback through any of these four channels:

  1. Customer Satisfaction Survey
    Help us understand your experience with the RHC Program and the online application process with this quick survey.
     
  2. Web-Based User Testing
    During "user testing," a researcher observes your screen and listens to your comments while you interact with My Portal. If you're interested in participating, volunteer for user testing.
     
  3. Phone or Web-Based Feedback Meetings
    30-minute appointments are available, via phone or web-based, for you to share your feedback with USAC and FCC staff. Appointments are available between December 2 and December 7. 
     
  4. Written Feedback
    We welcome your feedback by email to RHC Assist. Please submit feedback by December 7.

     

12/1/2015FCC Form 498 Now Available in EPC


Starting July 1, 2016, applicants who choose the BEAR payment method from USAC will complete and certify a revised FCC Form 472, Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form, to request direct reimbursement of their discount amounts. To prepare for this new payment process, applicants must complete an FCC Form 498, Service Provider and Billed Entity Identification Number and Contact Information Form to provide USAC with their banking account information so that USAC can electronically deposit funds in their account beginning July 1, 2016.

 

Applicants can now access the FCC Form 498 through the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). Applicants must submit this form, and it must be processed by USAC, before USAC can make direct payments, starting in July 2016. For more information on preparing for the direct BEAR payment process in EPC, read the November 20 issue of the SL News Brief.

  

12/1/2015SPIN Changes to 498 ID


A revised version of the FCC Form 498 is now available. With this revision, the term "Service Provider Identification Number," or "SPIN," has changed to "498 ID."

The FCC Form 498, previously a form used exclusively by service providers to provide contact and banking information to USAC, now includes a block for Schools and Libraries Program applicants who have selected to use the BEAR invoicing method. On the revised form, applicants of the Schools and Libraries Program can provide contact and banking information to receive billed entity applicant reimbursement (BEAR) payments directly from USAC, rather than through their service provider.

To reflect the change of the FCC Form 498 from a service provider-only form to one that is also used by certain program applicants, the form's name, the "Service Provider Identification Number and General Contact Information Form," is now, as of December 1, the "Service Provider And Billed Entity Identification Number and General Contact Information Form," and the number assigned to each payee will now be called a "498 ID," instead of a "SPIN."

For more information on this change, and how it affects you, visit the Changes to SPIN webpage.  

  

11/24/2015Fourth Quarter 2015 LI Program News Issued


The fourth quarter 2015 issue of LI Program News is now available.

11/24/2015Fourth Quarter 2015 RHC Circuit Issued


The 4Q2015 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

11/18/2015Reminder about NLAD Passwords, Security, and Lock-Outs


Lately, some NLAD users have reported being locked out, or requested assistance resetting their password.

For security reasons, NLAD logs users out of their session after 30 minutes of inactivity, and NLAD policy requires users to re-set their password every 45 days. These, along with web browser issues, have led to many users' login difficulties.

The NLAD team at USAC is unable to reset user passwords. Who you contact for assistance with your login credentials depends on your NLAD user role. Below you'll find instructions for each NLAD user role.

How to Re-Set Passwords for NLAD Account Holders
Who you contact for assistance with NLAD passwords and lock-outs depends on your user role. Follow these steps to re-set your password:

NLAD Subaccount User
Contact your account's "ETC Admin" (the person who set up your account) to re-set your password.

  1. Ask your account's "ETC Admin" to log into NLAD, then
  2. Under "Account Management," select "Manage NLAD Subaccounts,"
  3. Locate the account that needs to be re-set, and select "Edit," then "Reset Password."

ETC Admin
Contact your company's "497 Officer" to reset your password.

  1. Ask your company's "497 Officer" to log into NLAD, then
  2. Under "Account Management," select "497 Officer Home Page,"
  3. Locate the account that needs to be re-set, and select "Edit," then "Reset Password."

497 Officer
If you do not log in to NLAD for a 90-day period, your account will be locked due to inactivity, and you can re-set your password in USAC's E-File System. To re-set your password due to inactivity:

  1. Log into E-File
  2. Under "My Account," select "Change Password" 
    • E-File passwords must be a minimum of eight (8) characters, including an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, a special character (~!@#$, etc.), and no spaces.
  3. Clear cache and browser history
  4. Log in to NLAD using the same, new password set in E-File.

"497 Officers" are allowed three (3) login attempts before they are locked out of both NLAD and E-File. If you are locked out due to failed login, contact your "498 Officer" to re-set your password in E-File:

  1. Ask your "498 Officer" to log in to E-File
  2. Select "Authorized Users" from the left-hand menu
  3. Locate the account that needs to be re-set, and select "reset pwd" 
  4. Review the confirmation message and press "OK." The new password will be displayed and emailed to the newly re-set account holder.

498 Officer
Contact USAC Customer Operations at (888) 641-8722 to re-set your password.

Other Tips for NLAD Users
Please keep these in mind when logging into NLAD:

  1. USAC recommends the following internet browsers for NLAD: Firefox version 21 and Internet Explorer versions 8 and 9; USAC does not recommend Internet Explorer version 11.
  2. Once your password has been reset in E-File or NLAD, clear the browser history, cache, and all saved passwords. Then, close and re-open the browser to log in to NLAD.
  3. When you receive your temporary NLAD password via email, do not copy and paste the password into the password field. Please type out the password instead to log in.
  4. Three (3) unsuccessful login attempts will lock the user out of NLAD. Please ensure that you are entering your password in correctly and that "Caps Lock" is off/on as appropriate.

11/13/2015HCF Program Deadline for FY2014 FCC Form 463 is December 31


Per the FCC Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Order, Paragraph 305, all FCC Forms 463 must be submitted to USAC within six months of the end date of the funding commitment.

For funding year (FY) 2014 single-year funding commitments ending June 30, 2015 (the last day of FY2014), the FCC Form 463 must be approved by both the applicant and service provider, and submitted to USAC, by Thursday, December 31, 2015.

The funding commitment's end date can be found on the Funding Commitment Letter.

Note: This deadline is for the Healthcare Connect Fund Program only and does not apply to the Telecommunications Program.

Procedure for Submitting FCC Form 463 to USAC
To ensure service provider payment by submitting an FCC Form 463 to USAC:

  • An applicant must have an approved FCC Form 462 and a funding commitment from USAC.
  • An applicant must submit its FCC Form 463 associated with the funding commitment.
  • The service provider will be notified and will approve or reject the form. 
    • If the service provider rejects the form, it is sent back to the health care provider (HCP) for corrections.
  • After the form has been approved by the service provider, USAC will review it. 
  • Payments are made upon USAC review and approval.

New Functionality
The FCC Form 463 has been enhanced in My Portal to reduce the possibility of errors by HCPs, decreasing service provider review time and streamlining the submission process.

View the My Portal HCF Applicants Updates web page for a summary of enhancements and a PDF guide to what has changed in My Portal for the FCC Form 463. 

Invoicing Resources for Healthcare Providers
The RHC Program team has created new resources to explain the process step-by-step and ensure all HCF Program invoices can be submitted correctly and by the deadline. These new resources are linked below.

11/13/2015Webinar Invitation: Introduction to Fiber and Special Construction


Join USAC to learn about the FCC's Second E-rate Modernization Order's rules about funding for fiber and special construction projects.

Register NowIntroduction to Fiber and Special Construction
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 3:00 PM to 4:15 PM EST

Can't make it to the webinar next week? Register anyway, and we'll send you a link to the recording after the live presentation. The recording will also be posted in the Online Learning Library.

Presentation Topics
The presenters will review the benefits and challenges of selecting fiber and special construction to meet your broadband connectivity needs. Topics include:

  • Options for E-rate Program funding
  • Cost of deploying new fiber
  • Old rules vs. new rules
  • Dark fiber vs. lit fiber
  • Special construction projects and self-provisioned fiber networks
  • Making payments: Amortization of upfront capital and installment payments

The presenters will also discuss:

  • Tips for preparing a request for proposal (RFP)
  • Conducting a fair, open competitive bidding process
  • Selecting the most cost-effective bid
  • FCC matches for state or tribal funding

11/13/2015How to Activate your EPC Admin Account


USAC rolled out the first phase of our new IT system known as the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) in June 2015, and is working with applicants to set up their accounts in this new system.

How to Activate Your EPC Account
To log into the account, first locate the Account Creation email (sent from admin@portal.usac.org) or follow the instructions below to activate your account.

Watch the video: Logging into EPC

After you log in, you can designate another person at your organization to be the "account administrator" if you wish to do so.

Watch the video: Modifying Your Account Administrator

If you have questions about setting up your account, contact our Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100.

Consultants Cannot be EPC Account Administrators
Consultants cannot be the EPC "account administrator" for an applicant. If a consultant was listed as the "authorized person" on FCC Form 471 (and because of that, received the EPC account activation email), the applicant should contact our Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100 to designate an employee of the applicant organization to act as the account administrator.

Then, the applicant's account administrator can grant the consultant rights to access the information in the school's or library's account.

EPC Account Activation Instructions
Follow these instructions to set up your EPC account:

  1. Navigate to the EPC login page and click "I Agree," then, "Reset Your Password."
  2. Enter your email address in the "Username" field and select "Request Password Reset."
  3. The system will send an email to the address associated with your EPC username with a "reset password" link. You must click on the link within 15 minutes from the time you selected "Request Password Reset." If necessary, you can repeat the process.
  4. Log in to the system and accept the EPC Access Agreement Terms and Conditions located under the "Tasks" tab.

Your password must:

  • Have at least eight characters
  • Contain at least one numeral (0 to 9)
  • Contain at least one non-alphabetic character (such as !, $, #, %)
  • Contain at least one uppercase character (A though Z)
  • Contain at least one lowercase character (a through z)
  • Not have been used in the previous four passwords

Need Assistance?
If you have any questions or need information on how to log in to an account or change an account administrator, you can visit the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) page on the USAC website for user guides and video tutorials.

Contact our Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100 if you need additional assistance.

11/12/2015Schedule for Migration of Puerto Rico Lifeline Subscribers into NLAD Now Available


USAC has posted the NLAD Migration Schedule for Carriers in Puerto Rico

USAC will send updates and deadline reminders about the process for Puerto Rico through the NLAD bulletin. More information about the NLAD Migration for Carriers in Puerto Rico is available on our website.

Pre-Production Environment Available Beginning Monday, November 16
The NLAD pre-production environment will be available to carriers providing service in Puerto Rico beginning at 10:00 AM EST on Monday, November 16, 2015.

The NLAD pre-production environment is for testing and training purposes only. Data entered into the pre-production (test) environment is not transferred over to the production (live) environment. Carriers will be able to submit a subset of their Lifeline Program subscriber list (up to 1,000 records) to the pre-production environment in order to perform testing and conduct training for their staff. 

When completing work in NLAD, always double-check that you're using the correct URL for the environment you intend to work in (pre-production or scrubbing/production). The pre-production environment has a disclaimer in red, bold text on the login page.

Data Scrubbing in the Scrubbing/Production Environment
Separate from the NLAD pre-production environment is the NLAD scrubbing/production environment, so work may be performed simultaneously.

Carriers may use the production (live) environment to scrub their data until January 15 at noon EST. At that time, the the most recently uploaded full subscriber list will be accepted as the carrier's final subscriber list. 

When completing work in NLAD, always double-check that you're using the correct URL for the environment you intend to work in (pre-production or scrubbing/production). The pre-production environment has a disclaimer in red, bold text on the login page.

NLAD Migration Support for Carriers in Puerto Rico
Carriers in Puerto Rico are encouraged to contact USAC for help getting started with NLAD. Our staff is available to answer your questions, and can provide support throughout the data migration process. Please email NLAD Support with general inquiries or to schedule a time to review the NLAD data migration process.

We answered many questions related to Puerto Rico during the last NLAD Industry Webinar. For your reference, the slides are available here: Slide Deck - NLAD Industry Webinar Nov. 11.

Also, we recommend attending the monthly NLAD Industry Webinars and monitoring this publication, the NLAD Bulletin, for other NLAD and Lifeline Program updates.

11/12/2015Telecommunications Program Webinar: November 17


Join USAC on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 2:00 PM EST to learn about the Rural Health Care (RHC) Telecommunications Program and seek clarification on program rules. To view more upcoming events, visit the Trainings & Outreach section of our website. Register Now!

Webinar Topics

  • Funding Update
  • Eligibility and Competitive Bidding Best Practices 
    • Service Provider Involvement in Competitive Bidding
    • Filing and Revising an FCC Form 465
    • Avoiding Duplicate HCP Numbers
  • Funding Request Best Practices 
    • Tips for Filling Out an FCC Form 466
    • Calculating and Documenting Rural Rate Changes
  • Invoicing Best Practices
  • My Portal Updates
  • Program Update 
    • Rurality Change
    • Upcoming Special Webinars

After the discussion of the agenda items, RHC Program staff will accept questions from the audience. Participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance to RHC Assist

11/12/2015Enter Puerto Rico Lifeline Subscribers into NLAD by January 15


On November 3, 2015 the FCC released Order DA-15-1243 requiring all Lifeline carriers providing service in Puerto Rico to enter their subscribers into the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) by January 15, 2016.

The FCC has directed USAC to work with the Telecommunications Regulatory Board (TRB) of Puerto Rico and carriers operating in Puerto Rico to ensure the successful integration of Puerto Rico Lifeline subscriber data into NLAD by the January 15, 2016 deadline.

A schedule for the inclusion of Puerto Rico into NLAD will be available in on the NLAD page of our website later this week. 

Pre-Production Environment Will Be Available for Testing, Training
Similar to the migration processes for all states at the inception of NLAD, USAC will provide a pre-production environment to allow carriers in Puerto Rico to begin testing their data and conduct training for their staff. Once the production environment has been opened, carriers will have the opportunity to scrub their data.

We will send another notice once the pre-production environment is ready to accept data.

NLAD Migration Support for Carriers in Puerto Rico
Carriers in Puerto Rico are encouraged to contact USAC for help getting started with NLAD. Our staff is available to answer your questions, and can provide support throughout the data migration process. Please email NLAD Support with general inquiries or to schedule a time to review the NLAD data migration process. 

Also, we recommend attending the monthly NLAD Industry Webinars and monitoring this publication, the NLAD Bulletin, for other NLAD and Lifeline Program updates.

11/10/2015FCC Announces Timeline for Completion of 2016 Urban Rate Survey


The FCC has released a Public Notice (DA 15-1234) announcing that it will be initiating the urban rate survey for 2016 shortly. The information collected in this survey will be used, among other things, to develop voice and broadband reasonable comparability benchmarks that will be in place in 2016.

11/6/2015FCC Form 470 Search Tool Updates


The Funding Year (FY) 2016 FCC Form 470 Search Tools located on the USAC website have recently been updated. Users can now choose search parameters – such as posting dates, applicant types, service types- and receive search results at the bottom of the web page in HTML or PDF format or export the data as an XLS or CSV file.

View an FCC Form 470 (FY2016) tool

  • This tool searches FY2016 FCC Forms 470 that have been completed and posted by applicants.
  • If you choose the HTML or PDF option, you will see a list of forms at the bottom of the page that fit your search criteria. To view an individual form, click the underlined form number.
  • The results are also available in XLS format.

Download 470 Information (FY2016) tool

  • This tool allows the user to download summary information for service requests filed on the FY2016 version of the FCC Form 470.
  • If you choose the HTML option, you will see summary information on all of the forms that fit your search criteria.
  • The results are also available in XLS and CSV formats.

Note: Some applicants filed FCC Forms 470 intended for FY2016 by using the FY2015 version of the form (before the FY2016 FCC Form 470 was available in EPC). You can view those forms from the Search Tools page on the USAC website. Individual forms are available using the View an FCC Form 470 (2015 and prior) tool and downloads of form information are available from the Download 470 Information (FY2015) tool.

11/5/2015November 2015 HC Reporter Issued


The November 2015 HC Reporter is now available. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

11/3/2015USAC and Vendor Neutrality


USAC reminds health care providers (HCPs) participating in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program that USAC does not evaluate, approve, or endorse service providers or consultants who offer services to applicants in the RHC Program; USAC does not have special relationships with any particular service provider or consultant.

If you have any questions about USAC’s policies with regard to service providers or consultants offering services to applicants in the RHC Program, please contact the RHC Help Desk at 1-800-453-1546 or at RHC-Assist@usac.org


11/3/2015My Portal Software Updates


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program deploys software updates to improve usability and functionality in My Portal, the RHC Program's online application management system. 

These updates include features that will expedite the application review process and help applicants maintain RHC Program compliance. The features are also intended to make form submission faster and easier for applicants. Many enhancements are based on applicant feedback.

To view the newest software updates, expected to be deployed November 5, 2015, see the HCF Program Updates for Applicants and Service Provider Updates.


10/30/2015Change to Dispute Resolution Requests on November 10


A change to the submission of Dispute Resolution Requests in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will occur on Tuesday, November 10, 2015.

Currently, when a consumer fails the Third Party Identity Verification (TPIV) in NLAD, USAC transmits the reason for the failure to the carrier (e.g., incorrect date of birth, last four digits of social security number, or a combination of incorrect fields). In order to successfully submit a ticket for dispute resolution, the carrier must review documentation from the consumer that proves all identity fields are accurate.

We are changing this requirement so that starting November 10, the carrier will only be required to review documentation that verifies the failed part of the TPIV validation.

Carriers will still be required to submit the name or ID number of the agent who reviewed the consumer documentation and all other required fields related for the dispute resolution process.

10/27/2015Webinar Invitation: Get Started with the RHC Program


Through the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, $400M per year is available to health care providers for reduced rates on telecom services and broadband access.

If you're new to the RHC Program, thinking about applying for the first time, or need a refresher about the application process and program rules, join us for a webinar to learn the basics about how to participate! 

If you work with health care providers, you have a unique perspective on their needs and may be working with sites that are eligible, but not currently receiving funding from the Rural Health Care Program. Join us to learn about the program, so you can tell the health care providers you work with how they can reduce their costs of connectivity with RHC Program funding!

10/23/2015Updates to the Schools and Libraries Website


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program website has recently been updated to reflect E-rate Modernization Order program changes. Along with guidance updates, the main web page has been redesigned to make it easier to find out about program news, announcements, and to link to important program documents.


To navigate to the E-rate Program application process steps, select either Applicant Process or Service Provider Process on the main page (located below the slideshow images). To go to an individual process step, click the arrow to the right of “Applicant Process” or “Service Provider Process” and a dropdown menu will appear. To view the full list of process steps, click the words "Applicant Process" or "Service Provider Process."


The left-hand margin also includes links to additional information about the program and to resources and tools. The Reference Area in the left-hand margin of the website provides an alphabetized list of program topics. Visit the E-rate Program Online Learning Library to view videos and webinars containing step-by-step form filing instruction and program guidance. When you are ready to begin, visit the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) web page for information about setting up your organization in USAC’s new account and application management portal.


10/20/2015Special Edition News Brief - First EPC and FCC Form 470 Release Notes Issued


The 10/20/2015 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.

10/16/2015498/499 Spotlight Newsletter 4Q2015 Issued


The 4Q2015 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.