USAC's Latest News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the universal service programs as they were made throughout the years.
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.
RESOLVED: The issue with USAC's fax lines was resolved at 5:00 PM on Friday, April 22, 2016.
USAC’s fax lines are currently non-operational. If you submitted an FCC Form 497 or an FCC Form 498 via fax today, April 21, 2016, we may not have received it. To resubmit your filing, please email us your FCC Form 497 or FCC Form 498 and note in the subject line that it is a “Fax Resubmission.” All other forms should be filed electronically.
We are working with our provider to resolve this issue. We apologize for any inconvenience.
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.
The 2016 FCC Form 499-A (Annual Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet) is now available in E-File, USAC's online filing system. The form is due Friday, April 1, 2016.
FCC rules require all providers of telecommunications, including universal service fund de minimis exempt companies, to file 2016 FCC Form 499-A to report revenue data for the period of January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015.
Visit USAC's website to learn more, view the 499-A user guide, or sign up for webinar training.
Late Filing Fees
Even if you are a de minimis company, filing FCC Form 499-A after the due date or failing to file will result in late filing fees imposed by the universal service fund as well as each of the funds named below.
The universal service fund late filing fees of the greater of $100 per month or the U.S. prime rate plus 3.5 percent of the filer's monthly obligation (FCC 07-150). Each of the funds named below can impose their own late filing fees based on their own billing practices as well.
Important Billing Information
The 12-month 2015 revenue data that will be reported on the 2016 FCC Form 499-A will be used to calculate the filing entity's contribution amount for the following funds:
Please review Table 1 of the Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet Instructions for a summary of which telecommunications providers are required to contribute to which support mechanisms.
How to File
On February 8, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-138) announcing the release of the 2016 FCC Form 499-A and instructions, which are available on the Contributor Forms page.
To file FCC Form 499-A online, follow these steps:
Visit the Contributors Filers page for more information, including who must file, when to file, what and how to file, how to make revisions, and details about late payments, DCIA, and Red Light.
Webinar Training Available
Join USAC this month for a 3-part webinar series about FCC Form 499-A, the Annual Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet.
View Events and Register: FCC Form 499-A Webinar Series
Live presentations on March 8, 10 and 15, 2016
On February 17, 2016, the rule changes from the 2015 Lifeline Reform Order requiring carriers to retain documentation for eligibility and the NLAD resolution processes for disputes were posted to the Federal Register and became effective immediately.
Related to the documentation for the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) resolution processes, carriers are now required to:
"retain documentation that was reviewed to verify subscriber information for the NLAD dispute resolution process. The NLAD dispute resolution process requires ETCs to review additional documentation to verify the identity or information of a subscriber who has failed the third-party identification verification, and address or age check for the NLAD" (FCC 15-71, para. 233).
Carriers should continue to use the current method to submit dispute resolution requests through NLAD, but are now required to retain the documentation that was reviewed to verify the subscriber's identity and/or address.
Questions about this, and all other rule changes, may be submitted to the USAC 2015 Lifeline Reform Order Q&A page. Please check back frequently for updates.
The following rule change became effective upon publication in the Federal Register on February 17, 2016:
The following rule changes become effective 180 days from publication in the Federal Register on August 15, 2016:
For information on the final rule changes listed above, please visit our 2015 Lifeline Reform page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
For the HCF 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
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.