High Cost

Trainings & Outreach

HC Reporter - June 2015

June 2015

In this issue...

Program Happenings   |   At the FCC   l   Don't Forget

Rural Broadband Experiment Recipients Must Submit Letters of Credit

On May 27, 2015, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 15-635) announcing that it is ready to authorize rural broadband experiments support for the provisionally selected bids identified in Attachment A of this Public Notice. The bids that are ready to be authorized cover 2,091 census blocks in eight states for a total of $12,573,494.45 in support. To be authorized to receive the support listed in Attachment A, the provisionally selected bidders identified in that attachment are required to submit at least one acceptable irrevocable stand-by letter of credit and Bankruptcy Code opinion letter from their legal counsel in accordance with the instructions provided below by the applicable deadline, June 10, 2015, at 11:59 PM EDT.

FCC Form 481: Due July 1, 2015

All carriers receiving High Cost and/or Lifeline program support, with the exception of eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) who only participate in Phase I Mobility Fund (Section 54.313(k)), must submit FCC Form 481 to USAC, the FCC, state commissions, and any other relevant regulatory agencies by July 1, 2015, for Program Year (PY) 2016.

Submissions to USAC should be made via E-File. Note that E-File submits the form to USAC only. Carriers must file separately with the other regulatory agencies mentioned above.

The following resources can be found in the High Cost Program section of USAC's website:
If you have any questions about this form or filing, email our team so we can assist you.

Carriers receiving Mobility Phase 1 support who have reached the milestone(s) necessary to be eligible for subsequent rounds of support must complete FCC Form 690 to receive Payment 2 or 3.  

 

Deadlines

FCC Forms 481, 690, and the Rate Floor Data Collection Report and Certification Form are all due July 1, 2015.

 

The High Cost Program team is here to support you! Visit the Contact Us page and let us know how we can help.

FCC Form 690: Due July 1, 2015

All carriers receiving Mobility Fund support must submit FCC Form 690 to USAC, the FCC, state commissions, and any other relevant regulatory agencies by July 1, 2015. Submissions to USAC should be made via E-File. Note that E-File submits the form to USAC only. Carriers must file submissions separately with the other regulatory agencies mentioned above.
 
The following resources can be found in the High Cost Program section of USAC's website:
If you have any questions about this form or filing that are not covered in these items, email our team so we can assist you.
 
Carriers receiving Tribal Mobility Fund High Cost Program support must submit FCC Form 690 beginning this year. In addition, they are required to be certified under Section 54.314 by October 1, 2015.

Tariff Review Plans: Due June 16, 2015

On March 25, 2015, the FCC released an Order (DA 14-404) establishing the procedures for the 2015 filing of annual access charge tariffs and Tariff Review Plans (TRPs) for incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) subject to price cap regulation, as well as rate-of-return ILECs subject to sections 61.38 and 61.39 of the FCC's rules. In this Order, the FCC announced that these carriers must make their annual tariff filings on June 16, 2015. Carriers should submit this data to USAC via email. Note that a separate submission must also be made to the FCC.

Rate Floor Data: Due July 1, 2015

CFR Section 54.313(h) requires all ILECs receiving High Cost Program support to report all of their rates for residential local service for all portions of their service area, as well as state fees, to the extent the sum of those rates and fees are below the rate floor, and the number of lines for each rate specified. ETCs must report lines and rates in effect as of June 1 of the reporting year. For these purposes, state regulated fees are limited to state subscriber line charges, state universal service fees, and mandatory extended area service charges. Federal subscriber line charges and federal universal service fund fees are not included. 
 
On April 16, 2015, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 15-470) announcing that the Rate Floor reporting benchmark for 2015 is $21.22. Carriers should use the Rate Floor Data Collection Report and Certification Form on the High Cost Program's Forms page and submit it to USAC via email. In addition, it must be filed with the FCC and, as appropriate, with any relevant state commissions or authorities in a U.S. Territory, or Tribal governments.
 
Filing Tips
  1. Complete the Rate Floor Report (Tab 1) in Excel for easy data entry.
  2. Double check data for accuracy. Filings submitted after the due date will not be accepted as revisions if the revised data does not reduce a carrier's support.
  3. Send the Rate Floor Report in Excel format as well as PDF format via email. Large files may be zipped.
  4. Submit to hccerts@usac.org indicating "Rate Floor" in the subject line.
  5. Indicate with each filing submission whether rate floor data should be treated as confidential.
  6. Do not fax the Data Collection Form.
  7. Do not handwrite the data on the Data Collection Form.
  8. Rates which apply to the Lifeline Program should be listed on a separate row as these lines are excluded from rate floor reduction amounts.
  9. All rates that fall below the FCC annually established Rate Floor Benchmark must be reported to USAC on the Rate Floor Data Collection Form. The Rate Floor Reporting Benchmark for 2015 is $21.22. Reduction amounts are determined on a separate benchmark reduction schedule. The Rate Floor Reduction Benchmark for 2015 is $16.00.

FCC Approves NECA Average Schedule Formula Revisions

On April 29, 2015, the FCC issued an Order (DA-15-506) approving NECA's December 23, 2014 proposed modification of average schedule formulas for interstate settlements for the period beginning July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.

USAC Files Third Quarter Universal Service Fund Support Projections

USAC filed Fund Size Projections for the third quarter of 2015 on May 1, 2015. Appendices can be found on USAC's website

FCC Announces Connect America Fund Phase II Support

On April 29, 2015, the FCC announced the offers of model-based Phase II Connect America Fund support to price cap carriers to fund the deployment of voice and broadband-capable networks in their service territories. The carriers have until August 27, 2015, (120 days) to decide whether to accept the offers on a state-by-state basis. Read More

FCC Seeks Comments on Universal Service Fund Information Collection Requirements

On April 28, 2015, the FCC published a Notice in the Federal Register inviting the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on information collection. Written comments should be submitted on or before June 29, 2015. Details regarding items the FCC is seeking comment on can be found in the Notice.

Connect America Fund Offers Carriers Nearly $1.7 Billion to Expand Broadband

On April 29, 2015, the FCC announced that the Connect America Fund offered carriers nearly $1.7 billion to expand and support broadband service in rural areas where market forces alone cannot support deployment. Carriers now have 120 days to determine whether or not to accept the funding on a state-by-state basis. In states where carriers decline the offer, the subsidies will be offered to providers on a competitive basis. Read More

FCC Revises A-CAM Study Area Map

On May 5, 2015, the FCC published a revision to the map of rate-of-return study areas that will be incorporated into the next version of the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM). Read More

FCC Announces Availability of Connect America Fund Phase II Eligible Areas Map

On April 29, 2015, the FCC announced the offers of model-based Phase II Connect America Fund support to price cap carriers to fund the deployment of voice and broadband-capable networks in their service territories. A map showing the areas eligible for the offer of support is now available on the FCC's website. Read More

FCC Issues Small Entity Compliance Guide for ETC Reporting Requirements

On May 13, 2015, the FCC issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide for the annual reporting requirements for ETC recipients of High Cost and/or Lifeline program universal service fund support. Read More

FCC Meeting: Alaska Carriers and WTA Discuss Universal Service Fund Plan

On April 20, 2015, OTZ Telephone, Copper Valley Telephone, Bristol Bay Telephone, Cordova Telephone, Ketchikan Public Utilities, GCI, and WTA met with Chairman Wheeler's legal advisor and other FCC staff to discuss the Alaska Plan, a universal service fund plan designed specifically for Alaska telecom providers. Read More

FCC Meeting: Pioneer Telephone Discusses Alternative Connect America Cost Model

On April 22, 2015, Pioneer Telephone met with the FCC to discuss Pioneer's interest in utilizing the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) to determine the universal service fund support available to Pioneer to expand the provision of high-speed broadband connectivity within its service area. Read More

FCC Meeting: NTCA Discusses Rate-of-Return Broadband Support Proposal

On April 23, 2015, NTCA met with FCC staff to discuss the interest of NTCA and its rural stakeholder allies in engaging actively with the FCC to discuss the data connection support proposal put forward previously, and to review more specifically both potential modifications of that proposal and further materials relating to that proposal submitted recently by the rural associations. Read More

FCC Meeting: Hughes Discusses Alternative Approach to Latency for Connect America Fund Phase II

On May 6, 2015, Hughes Network Systems met with FCC to discuss latency requirements for entities to participate in the High Cost Program. Read More

FCC Filing: Nebraska Carriers Correct Modifications to Universal Service Fund Reform Plan

Arlington Telephone, Blair Telephone, et al. filed a letter on April 27, 2015, correcting an error in the modifications to their original universal service fund reform plan and transition for rate-of-return companies, which were filed on April 20, 2015. They attached a document correcting how the proposed operating expense adjustment was incorporated into the price-out and provided a revised price-out of the plan. 

FCC Filing: Senators Ask FCC to Modernize Support for Rural Broadband

U.S. Sen. John Thune (SD), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and fellow committee member U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) today released a letter signed by 61 senators to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler calling for a modernization of rules intended to ensure that Americans in rural areas have access to affordable broadband services. Read More

FCC Filing: House Members Ask FCC to Reform Universal Service Fund

On May 12, 2015, Congressman Kevin Cramer submitted a bi-partisan letter signed by 115 members of Congress to the Chairman Wheeler urging the FCC to move forward on reforms to the universal service fund to ensure consumers in areas served by small, rate-of-return providers have the same choice among reasonably comparable telecom services at reasonably comparable rates available to consumers in urban areas. Read More

FCC Filing: Butler-Bremer Requests Waiver of ICC Rules

On May 12, 2015, Butler-Bremer Mutual Telephone filed a petition requesting a waiver of Sections 51.909(a), 5 l.917(b)(1), and 5 l.9 l 7(b)(7) regarding intercarrier compensation (ICC) rules to modify access rate bands and charges, and 201 1 Switched Access Revenue in connection with a merger and consolidation.
 
On May 20, 2015, the FCC released a Public Notice  (DA 15-600) seeking comment on this petition. Comments are due June 10, 2015, and reply comments are due June 22, 2015.

Read more articles in the High Cost Program's Latest News section.

 

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June 2015