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News Archive

USAC's News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the universal service programs as they were made throughout the years. The archives will be updated as new announcements are made.


  

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/21/2016Online Filing Issues - FCC Form 497


Some carriers are experiencing issues today when attempting to file their FCC Form 497 online. 

USAC is diligently working to solve this issue as soon as possible and will provide notice once it has been resolved. Your patience during this time is greatly appreciated.

9/9/2016Invitation to Webinar: Lifeline Program Updates September 14


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

Lifeline Program Update Webinar, Wednesday, September 14, 3:00 PM ET
REGISTER NOW 

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

  • Methods of Communicating Lifeline Program Changes to Subscribers
  • Modernization Updates

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

Q&A and Event Resources
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.


8/18/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: August 20


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance on Saturday, August 20 from 2:00-6:00 AM ET.

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

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

8/18/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, August 21


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, August 21 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.

8/10/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, August 11


Rural Health Care’s My Portal will be unavailable from 7:00-9:00 AM ET on Thursday, August 11, 2016, due to system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. We apologize for any inconvenience.
 

8/4/2016RESOLVED: NLAD System Intermittent Disruptions


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

USAC is diligently working to resolve this issue as soon as possible and will provide notice once it has been resolved.

7/21/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, July 24


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, July 24 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.

7/15/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: July 16


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance on Saturday, July 16 from 2:00-6:00 AM ET.

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

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

7/7/2016USAC Customer Operations and RHC Help Desk Closed: Monday, July 11


USAC’s Customer Operations and RHC Help Desk will be closed on Monday, July 11 due to an office move.  These customer service centers will re-open on Tuesday, July 12 at their normally scheduled times.  This closure does not affect the Schools and Libraries (E-Rate) Client Service Bureau (CSB) or NLAD Technical Support.

6/30/2016RESOLVED: E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Currently Unavailable


RESOLVED: 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.

If you are still experiencing issues, please call the Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100. 

6/23/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, June 26


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, June 26 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.

6/16/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: June 18


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance on Saturday, June 18 from 2:00-6:00 AM ET.

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

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

6/16/2016E-File Outage for FCC Form 481 Filers Due to System Maintenance: Monday, June 20


USAC's E-File system for FCC Form 481 filers will be unavailable Monday, June 20, from 7:00-9:00 AM ET, for system maintenance. The online FCC Form 481 will not be accessible for contributors or service providers. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Form 690 online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

6/3/2016Invitation to Webinar: Lifeline Program Update


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:

  • Voice and broadband benefit port freeze rules
  • Rolling recertification process
  • Questions submitted in advance
  • Live audience Q&A

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.

Additional Information
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.

6/3/2016E-File Outage for FCC Form 481 Filers Due to System Maintenance: Monday, June 6


USAC's E-File system for FCC Form 481 filers will be unavailable Monday, June 6, from 4:00-6:00 PM ET, for system maintenance. The online FCC Form 481 will not be accessible for contributors or service providers. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Form 690 online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

6/1/2016FCC Form 481 Approved by OMB


On May 31, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-601) announcing the approval of FCC Form 481 by the Office of Management and Budget.

6/1/2016Retirement of Current API for Dispute Resolutions


Beginning today, June 1, 2016, at 5:00 PM ET, USAC will no longer support the current resolution request API in the National Lifeline Accountability Database's pre-production and production environments. Only dispute resolutions submitted through the new API will be accepted starting today at 5:00 PM ET.

Please review the "Submit Resolution Request" section of the API Specification guide in NLAD for further details. For more information on the NLAD dispute resolution process, please visit our website.

5/27/2016Notice to Consortia Filing FCC Forms 471


RESOLVED: Consortia that file an FCC Form 471 after May 26 will receive a popup message immediately after they certify their form telling them that the form is out of window. This message is incorrect, and we are working to get it fixed as soon as possible.

If you are filing for a consortium, you can verify in your EPC news feed or in your form display that the status of your form is “Certified In Window.”

5/27/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, May 29


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 3:00-6:00 AM ET on Sunday, May 29, for system maintenance. The USAC website, including other applications and tools that are not accessed through EPC will not be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/25/2016Puerto Rico Duplicate Resolution De-Enroll Report Available May 26; De-Enroll Subscribers by June 3


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:

  1. Log in to the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD),
  2. On the left navigation pane, under the "Report and Tools" section, select "Reports,"
  3. Select "Duplicate Resolution De-Enroll Report,"
  4. Select the study area code (SAC),
  5. Select "Duplicate Subscriber,"
  6. Select your preferred report format - display or CSV,
  7. Click "Submit." 

5/23/2016Extended CSB Hours This Week


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).

Call: (888) 203-8100
Online: Submit a customer service case in EPC or Submit a Question

The Client Service Bureau (CSB) will be open the following hours during the last week of the window:

  • Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EDT
  • Monday-Wednesday, May 23-25, 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM EDT
  • Thursday, May 26 at 8:00 AM through Friday, May 27 at 12:30 AM EDT

Remember that the following times are our busiest:

  • Weekdays from 11:00 AM to12:30 PM and 2:30 to 4:00 PM EDT

We encourage you to call with questions as soon as possible so that we can provide answers promptly.

5/23/2016Special Edition News Brief - Tips for Last-minute Filers (Schools and School Districts)


The 05/23/2016 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.  

5/20/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Tuesday, May 24


Rural Health Care’s My Portal will be unavailable from 7:00-8:30 AM ET on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, due to system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/20/2016Time Running Out to Get a Full Year of Funding in FY2016


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. 

  • To initiate the competitive bidding process* for the Healthcare Connect Fund Program, submit the service request form, FCC Form 461.
  • To initiate the competitive bidding process* for the Telecom Program, submit the service request form, FCC Form 465

*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.

5/19/2016Apply Online Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, May 20


The Schools and Libraries Program's Apply Online portal, including Submit a Question, online forms, and most search tools will be unavailable from 8:00 PM ET May 20 - 2:00 AM ET May 21, 2016, for system maintenance. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for certain previous forms online.

This outage will not affect the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). You will still be able to file, submit, and certify FCC Forms 470 and 471. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/19/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: May 21


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance on Saturday, May 21 from 2:00-6:00 AM ET.

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

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

5/17/2016Tariff Review Plan Templates


USAC has developed submission templates to help you with your Tariff Review Plans, due June 16, 2016. Access the templates on the Handouts & Reference page. Completed templates should be submitted with your TRP.

5/17/2016May 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

5/17/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, May 19


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, May 19 from 7:00-8:30 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.

5/16/2016Changes to the EPC and Apply Online Pages


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:

  • All previous and current funding year links from one page,
  • See the entire application process broken down into four easy steps, and
  • Access resources such as filing guides and videos associated with each step.

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.

5/15/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Tuesday, May 17


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 12:00 AM - 2:00 AM ET, Tuesday, May 17 for software 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. 

5/12/2016Can't Find Your Service Provider's SPIN/498 ID?


If you haven't been able to locate your service provider's SPIN (also known as a 498 ID), you can still complete your funding requests. There's now an interim SPIN available that you can use as a place holder for your service provider's actual SPIN. The interim SPIN is: 143666666. Enter this number in the SPIN (498 ID) field on the FCC Form 471.

If your service provider's actual SPIN becomes available before Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) review, you can submit a RAL correction through your online account to update the SPIN. Otherwise, you can update the SPIN during the Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) application review process.

5/10/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, May 12


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, May 12 from 7:00-8:00 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.

5/6/2016Invitation to Webinar: Lifeline Modernization Order Overview


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
Register Now

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

  • Overview of the Lifeline Modernization Order,
  • Upcoming implementation dates, and
  • Open Q&A

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.

Audience Participation
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.

5/6/2016FCC Releases Density Data


On May 3, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-478) announcing the release of rate-of-return study area density data. Density will be used in implementing various reforms adopted by the FCC in the Rate-of-Return Reform Order.

4/29/2016FCC Releases Lifeline Modernization Order


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

4/27/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, May 1


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, May 1 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.

4/27/2016Lifeline Consumer Recertification: Elect USAC by May 2


Did you know that your carrier can elect USAC to conduct the annual re-certification process on its behalf? USAC's recertification service comes at no cost to you, and guarantees compliance with all Lifeline Program recertification rules. 

If you'd like to elect USAC, complete the recertification election spreadsheet and send it to USAC via email by Monday, May 2, 2016.

About the Consumer (Subscriber) Recertification Process
Your carrier is required to recertify each of your Lifeline subscribers' eligibility annually. You can either elect USAC (by May 2, 2016), or conduct your own recertification process

Important note: USAC does not provide live customer support and will direct subscribers to your customer service for assistance.

4/27/2016Second Quarter 2016 RHC Circuit Issued


The 2Q2016 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

4/27/2016Overview of the FCC's Rate-of-Return Reforms Webinar FAQs Available


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.

An initial batch of answers to the audience's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are now available on the FCC's Connect America Fund page, or you can download them here.

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.

4/27/2016Special Edition News Brief - New Process for Receiving and Answering PIA Questions


The 04/27/2016 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.  

4/27/2016Mel Blackwell, Vice-President of the Schools and Libraries Program, to retire from USAC July 1


See the letter from Mel Blackwell to the E-rate Program community here.

4/21/2016RESOLVED: USAC Fax Lines Down


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.  

4/21/2016E-rate Program Service Provider Trainings Have Been Rescheduled from May to June


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:

  • June 20 in Los Angeles at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel
  • June 30 in Atlanta at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel

 

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:

  • Exact details on how the July 1 “BEAR transition” will work – what applicants have to do, when service providers can stop approving BEARs, and how service provider notifications will occur,
  • Helpful guidance on using EPC--SPI forms, visibility of BEAR forms, and other invoicing functions, and
  • Specific updates about the new platform for online search functions and capabilities, which service providers will use to get insight into FY2015 and FY2016 funding requests and commitments.

 

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.

 

4/20/2016FCC Releases Tariff Review Plan Order


On April 13, 2016, the FCC released an Order (DA 16-399) setting forth the Tariff Review Plans (TRPs) that are available for all incumbent local exchange carriers to use to support the annual revisions to the rates in their interstate access service tariffs. TRPs are due June 16, 2016.

4/20/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, April 22


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Friday, April 22 from 7:00-8:00 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.

4/20/2016Special Edition News Brief - Tips for Completing the Bulk Upload Templates


The 04/20/2016 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.

4/19/2016Special Edition News Brief - Updated Connectivity Questions Worksheet Available Tomorrow


The 04/19/2016 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.

4/15/2016FY2016 Window Extended


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.   

4/14/2016Comments on Rate-of-Return USF Reform FNPRM Due May 12


On April 12, 2016, the FCC published the FNPRM attached to the March 30, 2016 Rate-of-Return USF Reform Order in the Federal Register. The FNPRM seeks comments on proposed rule changes to the FCC’s accounting and affiliate transaction rules for ratemaking and USF support purposes “to eliminate inefficiencies and provide guidance to rate-of-return carriers regarding the FCC’s expectations for appropriate expenditures.” The FNPRM also seeks comments on: methods for reducing support in competitive areas; increasing support for RoR carriers in tribal lands and unserved areas; measures to improve the operation of the current rate-of-return system; and streamlining ETC annual reporting requirements. Comments are due May 12; replies due June 13.

4/13/2016Apply Online Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, April 15


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, April 15 through 2:00 AM ET Saturday, April 16, for system maintenance. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for certain forms online. We apologize for any inconvenience. The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this outage.

4/13/2016Reminder for API Users! Retirement of Current API for Dispute Resolution


Beginning June 1, 2016, USAC will no longer support the current resolution request API in the NLAD pre-production and production environments. Only dispute resolutions submitted through the new API will be accepted after this date. 

Please review the "Submit Resolution Request" section of the API Specification guide in NLAD for further details. 

More information about the NLAD Dispute Resolution Process, is available on our website.

4/13/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: April 16


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance on Saturday, April 16 from 2:00-6:00 AM ET.

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

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

4/12/2016Critical Deadlines Approaching for Both FY2015 and FY2016


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. 

  • If you participate in the Healthcare Connect Fund Program, use FCC Form 462.
  • If you participate in the Telecom Program, use FCC Form 466

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. 

  • To apply for the Healthcare Connect Fund Program, start with FCC Form 461
  • To apply for the Telecom Program, start with FCC Form 465

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. 

4/11/2016Changes to Puerto Rico Duplicate Subscriber Resolution


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.

4/11/2016Carriers Can Elect USAC to Perform Lifeline Program Annual Recertification on their Behalf


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:

  • Reduce your administrative burden,
  • Save money (USAC-elected recertification is at no cost to the carrier),
  • Comply with all Lifeline Program recertification rules, and
  • Provide multiple recertification options to your subscribers.

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.

4/11/2016Updated A-CAM Results and Competitive Coverage Challenge 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. 

4/11/2016Special Edition News Brief - Two EPC Improvements to the Online FCC Form 471


The 04/11/2016 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.

4/9/2016Special Edition News Brief - Special Update for Educational Service Agencies


The 04/09/2016 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.

4/7/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, April 10


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 10 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.

4/6/2016498/499 Spotlight Newsletter 2Q2016 Issued


The 2Q2016 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.

4/6/2016Search Posted Services Tools Now Combined


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. 

More Information
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.

4/6/2016FCC Announces the Results of 2016 Urban Rate Survey


On April 5, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-362) announcing the results of the 2016 urban rate survey for fixed voice and broadband services. Under the FCC’s rules ILEC ETCs must report in their annual FCC Form 481 the number of residential service lines for which the sum of the local rate and state fees is below the rate floor set in this Public Notice.

4/6/2016April 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

4/5/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, April 7


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, April 7 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.

4/5/2016Special Edition News Brief - FCC Form 471 Funding Request Bulk Upload Templates Available


The 04/05/2016 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.

4/1/2016FCC Form 481 Now Available; Due July 1


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:

  • FCC Form 481 Template
  • Filing instructions
  • Upload templates

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.

3/31/20162015 USAC Annual Report Now Available


USAC's 2015 Annual Report highlights the strategic groundwork put in place to support the modernization orders from the FCC. USAC developed a strategy and approach to maximize program impact and amplify our dedication to the mission of universal service. The Annual Report demonstrates these strategic shifts and showcases detailed supporting numbers for each program area.

3/31/2016FCC Announces Webinar on Rate-of-Return Reform: April 4


The FCC will host a webinar on Monday, April 4, 2016, from 2:00-3:30 PM ET, to provide a summary of the reforms to the high-cost support mechanisms for rate-of-return carriers adopted in the Rate-of-Return Reform Order. Interested parties may register here.

3/31/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, April 3


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 3 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.

3/30/2016E-File Outage for FCC Form 481 Filers Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, March 31


USAC's E-File system for FCC Form 481 filers will be unavailable Thursday, March 31, from 5:00-7:00 PM ET, for system maintenance. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Form 481 online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

3/29/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, March 31


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, March 31 from 7:00-8:30 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.

3/29/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Wednesday, March 30


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 12:00-5:00 AM ET, Wednesday, March 30 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.

3/28/2016Funding Year 2016 FCC Form 470 Filing Deadline: Friday, April 1, 2016


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:

3/25/2016Pre-Production Release of New Error Message Code


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:

  • "NO_FIELDS_ARE_UPDATED" error message code will be given when a subscriber record is not updated during a transaction edit request.

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.

3/25/2016FCC Form 690 Now Available in E-File - Due July 1, 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:

  • A PDF version of FCC Form 690,
  • OMB-approved filing instructions and an online filing user guide,
  • A video series about filing FCC Form 690, and
  • The necessary upload template.

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.

3/23/2016Special Edition News Brief - Schools with Only Part-time Students


The 03/23/2016 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.

3/18/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Monday, March 21


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 9:00 PM, Monday, March 21, through 2:00 AM ET, Tuesday, March 22, 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.

3/17/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: March 19


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

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

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

3/17/2016Apply Online Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, March 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, March 18 through 2:00 AM ET Saturday, March 19, for system maintenance. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for certain forms online. We apologize for any inconvenience. The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this outage.

3/15/2016Special Edition News Brief - New Option for Answering Connectivity Questions for FY2016


The 03/15/2016 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.

3/15/2016Limited Telephone Customer Support on Wednesday, March 16


Due to Metrorail's closure, USAC will have limited telephone customer support on Wednesday, March 16 for USAC Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will not be affected.

During this time we recommend that you submit all inquiries via email. Thank you!

3/15/2016Multiple System Outages Due to Maintenance: March 15


Portions of USAC's NLAD System, High Cost and Lifeline forms in E-File, and certain tools for the High Cost, Lifeline, Rural Health Care, and Schools and Libraries Programs will be unavailable Tuesday, March 15, beginning at 9:00 PM through 1:00 AM ET, Wednesday, March 16, for system maintenance. Contributor forms, My Portal, and EPC will not be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience.

3/11/2016March 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

3/11/2016FCC Announces Second Quarter 2016 Contribution Factor Decrease to 17.9 Percent


The Federal Communications Commission released a Public Notice (DA 16-266) announcing that the proposed universal service contribution factor for the second quarter (April-June) of 2016 will be 0.179 or 17.9 percent.

3/11/2016FCC Releases Order Regarding CAF Phase II Support and RBE Requirements


On March 9, 2016, the FCC released an Order (FCC 16-28) to clarify that price cap carriers can use Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II model-based support to serve locations in eligible census blocks where the price cap carrier has served or intends to serve a
location or locations using Phase I Round 2 incremental support. The order also makes several modifications to the letter of credit requirements for recipients of Rural Broadband Experiment support.

Competitive Providers Must Notify PRTC of Service Overlap by April 18 for CAF Phase I Support
On March 4, 2016, the FCC issued a Public Notice (DA 16-250) to announce that providers have until April 18, 2016, to notify Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) that they currently offer Internet service at speeds of 3 Mbps/768 kbps or higher in PRTC’s newly identified census blocks for Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase I Round 2 support. On February 19, 2016, PRTC notified the FCC that it intends to modify its CAF Phase I Round 2 incremental broadband deployment plans, and submitted a list of 323 census blocks that it had not previously identified with its initial election where it now intends to serve locations using Phase I incremental support.

3/7/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Monday, March 7


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 6:00-9:00 PM ET, Monday, March 7, 2016 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.

3/7/2016CoBank Supports Universal Service Fund Contributions Reform


On February 29, 2016 CoBank filed a letter with the FCC that states it is time to consider what needs to be done next to continue to support the deployment and maintenance of broadband in rural America. CoBank believes that the examination and reform of the
universal service fund’s contributions mechanism is long overdue to maintain the viability of the program.

3/3/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, March 6


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, March 6 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.

3/1/20162016 FCC Form 499-A Now Available in E-File


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:

  • Federal Universal Service Fund
    • True up of the previously filed quarterly FCC Form 499-Q submissions
  • Local Number Portability (LNP) Fund
    • Contributions for July 2016 - June 2017
  • North American Number Plan (NANP) Fund
    • Contributions for July 2016 - June 2017
  • Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund
    • Contributions for July 2016 - June 2017

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:

  1. On usac.org/cont, navigate to E-File and select the "Log in" button.
  2. Log in with your user ID and password. 
    • If you forgot your password, click the "Forgot Password" button to reset it instantly.
  3. Once you are logged in to the E-File system, click "Create New Form" in the top of the left-hand menu.
  4. On the "Form 499-Create New Form" page: 
    • Select "FCC Form 499-A for April 2016" as your filing.
    • Type in your Filer ID.
    • Click "Submit."
  5. A new 2016 FCC Form 499-A will open that you can fill out and submit online.

More Information
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

Registration is available on the Contributors Trainings & Outreach page. All events are offered free of charge. These events will be recorded and posted to the Online Learning Library.

2/29/2016NLAD System Intermittent Disruptions - RESOLVED


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) is experiencing an intermittent and partial disruption with the address matching service (AMS) functionality.

USAC is diligently working to resolve this issue as soon as possible and will provide notice once the issue is resolved.

All issues have now been resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience. 

2/25/2016Special Edition News Brief - EPC Improvements and Enhancements to the Online FCC Form 471


The 02/25/2016 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.

2/23/2016E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: February 25


USAC's E-File system for FCC Forms 498 and 499 filers will be unavailable Thursday, February 25, 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.

2/22/2016First Quarter 2016 RHC Circuit Issued


The 1Q2016 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

2/19/2016Reminder! Document Retention Requirements Effective February 17, 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.

2/18/20162015 Lifeline Reform Order Published in the Federal Register


On February 17, 2016, the FCC published the rule changes from the 2015 Lifeline Reform Order in the Federal Register, and the exact effective dates for the changes can now be provided.


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:

  • Resale of Lifeline [referenced in Public Notice DA 16-56 as “Updating the definition of eligible telecommunications carriers, direct service, and Lifeline” (47 CFR Sections 54.403, 54.400, 54.401)].
  • FCC Form 497 Snapshot Date – The first snapshot date after the rule becomes effective is September 1, 2016. Carriers must begin using the snapshot date on September 1, 2016, but are not required to wait until the deadline and may transition to using the first day of the month at any time.

For information on the final rule changes listed above, please visit our 2015 Lifeline Reform page. 

2/18/2016Electric Utilities Urge CAF Phase II Auction Framework Supportive of Fiber


On January 13, 2016, Co-Mo Electric, Midwest Energy, SyncGlobal Telecom, the Fiber Networks Owners Alliance, the North Georgia Network, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the Utilities Telecom Council met with FCC staff to express support for a Connect America Fund Phase II auction framework that would promote opportunities for fiber projects to successfully bid for access to funding in unserved areas. Read the summary

NTCA, ITTA, and USTelecom Support Updating Universal Service Fund Mechanisms for Standalone Broadband
On January 20, 2016, NTCA, ITTA, and USTelecom met with FCC staff to express support for a simple and straightforward means of updating existing universal service mechanisms to support standalone broadband services. Read the summary

Totah and WTA Discuss Universal Service Fund Reform for RoR Carriers
On January 21, 2016, Totah Communications and WTA met with FCC staff to discuss various potential features of the Rate of Return path, including options for build-out requirements, distribution of high-cost support in areas served by unsubsidized competitors, budgets and budget controls, capital expenditure and operating expense limitations, and rate re-prescription. Read the summary

ITTA Proposes Density-Based Speed Requirements for RoR Model-Based Partially Funded Locations
On January 19, 2016, ITTA filed a letter proposing that the FCC take into account the density of the study area served by a RoR carrier when considering increasing the speed standard from the 10/1 Mbps standard previously established for price-cap carriers. Read the letter

Nebraska Companies Argue Against Alternative Technologies for Partially Funded Locations
On January 19, 2016, Nebraska Companies filed a letter noting they have advocated providing model-opting RoR companies at least $200 million annually in additional support plus their legacy support, or provide up to $200 monthly per eligible location. Read the letter

2/17/2016Apply Online Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, February 19


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, February 19 through 2:00 AM ET Saturday, February 20, for system maintenance. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for certain forms online. We apologize for any inconvenience. The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this outage.

2/17/2016NLAD Outage Due to System Maintenance: February 20


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance on Saturday, February 20 from 2:00-6:00 AM ET.

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

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

2/10/2016Edición Especial del Resumen de Noticias del Programa de Escuelas y Bibliotecas


The 02/10/2016 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.

2/9/2016FCC 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.

2/2/2016Federal 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.

1/13/2016ViaSat Discusses Connect America Fund Phase II


On December 2, 2015, ViaSat met with FCC staff to discuss Connect America Fund Phase II and ViaSat’s positions regarding the role satellite-delivered broadband should play in the FCC’s Connect America Fund structuring. Read the summary (ViaSat, Dec 2)

USTelecom, NTCA, NECA, et al. Discuss Asset Allocation Under Bifurcated Approach
On December 3, 2015, USTelecom, NTCA, Alexicon, GVNW, JSI, and NECA spoke via telephone with FCC staff to discuss the mechanics of allocating various expenses and support assets under the bifurcated approach to universal service fund reform. Read the summary (USTelecom, NTCA, et al.)

NECA Discusses Allocation of Expenses and Assets Under Bifurcated Approach
On December 7, 2015, NECA spoke via telephone with FCC staff to discuss the mechanics of allocating various expenses and support assets under the FCC’s proposed bifurcated approach. Read the summary (NECA)

ITTA Discusses Buildout Obligations Under Model-Based Universal Service Fund Support Plan
On December 7 and 8, 2015, ITTA met with FCC staff to discuss elements of proposed universal service reform for the rate-of-return industry. Read the summary (ITTA)
       
NARUC Discusses its Resolution on Connect America Fund
On December 4, 2015, NARUC’s President and General Counsel met with FCC staff to discuss NARUC’s November 2015 resolution that supports the objectives of the Connect America Fund and its Remote Areas Fund component. Read the summary (NARUC)

ViaSat Advocates Competitively Neutral Connect America Fund Phase II Auction
On December 7, 2015, ViaSat spoke by telephone with FCC staff and emphasized its support for a competitively neutral, market-based bidding mechanism that distributes Connect America Fund Phase II support to the lowest-cost bidder. Read the summary (ViaSat, Dec 7)

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. 

1/12/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Tuesday, January 12


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will be unavailable from 11:00 PM, Tuesday, January 12 through 1:00 AM ET, Wednesday, January 13, 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.

1/12/2016Carriers 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.

1/12/2016USTelecom, NTCA, et al. Suggest Changes to Mechanics of Bifurcated Approach


On November 23, 2015, USTelecom, NTCA, Alexicon, Moss Adams, GVTC, and Hargray Telecommunications spoke by telephone with FCC staff to discuss the mechanics of the bifurcated approach to universal service fund reform. Read the summary (USTelecom, NTCA...)

Nebraska Companies Urge Adoption of Model-Based Universal Service Fund Support Option
On November 24, 2015, Harold Furchtgott-Roth met with FCC staff on behalf of the Nebraska Companies to discuss the importance of moving forward with a model option for rate-of-return carrier universal service support. Read the summary (Harold Furchtgott-Roth)

USTelecom and Larger Carriers Discuss Connect America Fund Phase II Auction Design
On November 19, 2015, Windstream, CenturyLink, AT&T, Verizon, FairPoint, Frontier, and USTelecom met with FCC staff to discuss the proposed Connect America Fund Phase II auction design framework order. Read the summary (Windstream, CenturyLink...)

ACA Calls for Less Onerous Requirements for Small Providers for Connect America Fund Phase II Competitive Bidding
On November 23, 2015, the American Cable Association met with FCC staff to discuss the Connect America Fund Phase II competitive bidding process and the order on circulation to establish a framework for that process. Read the summary (American Cable Association)

ACA Advocates Less Onerous Connect America Fund Phase II Financial Requirements for Small Providers
On November 30, 2015, the American Cable Association met with FCC staff to discuss the Connect America Fund Phase II competitive bidding process and the order on circulation to establish a framework for that process. Read the summary (Financial Requirements)

LICT, Totah, and WTA Discuss Tariff and Pricing Impacts of Universal Service Fund Reform
On December 1, 2015, LICT Corporation, Totah Communications, and WTA met with FCC staff to discuss the tariff and pricing impacts of potential changes to High Cost Program support mechanisms for rural carriers. Read the summary (LICT, Totah...)

NTCA and Arent Fox Stress Need for Predictable, Sufficient Support for RLECs
On December 3, 2015, NTCA and Arent Fox met with FCC staff to discuss the unique challenges faced by smaller firms that operate exclusively across high-cost, rural areas and the importance of predictable and sufficient universal service support to such firms. Read the summary (NTCA, Arent Fox)

ITTA Discusses Broadband Obligations for Model-Based Universal Service Fund Support
On December 3, 2015, ITTA met with FCC staff to discuss elements of proposed universal service reform for the rate-of-return industry. Read the summary (ITTA)

1/8/2016Wheeler Responds to Congress on Competitive Overlap Determinations for RoR Carriers


On November 24, 2015, Chairman Wheeler sent letters to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Ron Wyden (D–OR), and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D–OR) in response to their letter, which expressed concern about the methodology used to determine rate-of-return (RoR) carrier study areas that are fully served by unsubsidized competitors and the reliability of FCC Form 477 data to make the preliminary determinations. Read the letters (Competitive Overlap)

Wheeler Responds to Senator Manchin on Mobility Fund
On November 24, 2015, Chairman Wheeler sent a letter to Senator Joe Manchin (D–WV) in response to his letter, which expressed concern that the FCC is not fulfilling its statutory mission to make sure all Americans have access to advanced communications services and suggested the Mobility Fund provides an opportunity to achieve that goal. Read the letter (Mobility Fund)

FCC Extends Allband Waiver
On December 7, 2015, the FCC released an Order (DA 15-1390) extending a waiver previously granted to Allband Communications Cooperative for an additional six months until the earlier of either June 30, 2016, or the date on which further action is taken on the pending waiver request. Read Order (DA 15-1390) 

Comments Invited on Application to Discontinue Service
On December 18, 2015, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 15-1456) inviting comments on the application of Northeast Florida Telephone Company to discontinue domestic telecommunications services. Comments are due by January 19, 2016. Read Public Notice (DA 15-1456) 

FCC Releases 2015 Universal Service Monitoring Report
The FCC released the eighteenth report in a series prepared by federal and state staff members for the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service. This report is generally based on information available as of September 2015. These reports contain information designed to monitor the impact of various universal service support mechanisms and the method used to finance them. Read the Report

Chairman Wheeler Responds to Sen. Schatz on Protecting SIC Consumers During Audit
On December 15, 2015, Chairman Wheeler sent a letter to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) in response to his letter requesting the FCC prevent the disruption of services to SIC's customers while USAC conducts an audit of SIC. Chairman Wheeler said if SIC were to file a request for discontinuance of services, the FCC would consider whether any customers would have difficulty in transitioning to alternative services. Read the letter (SIC Consumers)

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.

1/7/2016E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, January 10


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