High Cost

Trainings & Outreach

HC Reporter - May 2016

May 2016

In this issue...

Program Happenings   |   At the FCC  

PROGRAM HAPPENINGS

Webinar: Walkthrough of FCC Form 481 for Program Year 2017

On May 17, 2016, USAC will hold a webinar to provide a walkthrough of Form 481, due July 1, 2016. The topics to be covered include:
  • Overview of FCC Form 481 and the filing process
  • New Requirements
  • Changes and enhancements to the online filing system

FCC Forms 481 and 690 Resources Available

FCC Forms 481 and 690 are due by July 1, 2016. FCC Form 481 is required for all carriers participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs, with the exception of participants in Mobility Fund Phase I [Section 54.313(k)]. FCC Form 690, however, is required by all carriers receiving Mobility Fund Phase l support.
 
Both forms for 2016 are available in our online filing system,
E-File. The following resources are now available on USAC's website:
 
FCC Form 481
 
FCC Form 690
 
* Please note that carriers may begin the FCC Form 481 filing but will not be able to certify their form yet. The form and instructions are still pending OMB approval so the certify button and bulk certify options are disabled until approved. We will send notification when the certify buttons are activated.
 
This is related to the FCC Form 481 only; FCC Form 690 is not affected and may be certified at any time. 

FCC Authorizes Frontier to Receive CAF II Support

On April 11, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-390) authorizing Frontier to receive over $48.5 million in Connect America Phase II support in California and Texas in the areas served by former Verizon Communications, Inc. subsidiaries.

 

A common finding is that the amounts reported on the High Cost Program forms  such as for fixed assets, expenses, benefits and rents, minutes of use, etc., do not agree with the supporting documentation provided (e.g., trial balance, cost studies, access minutes report, etc.).

 

Make sure the amounts you enter on your forms agree with the documentation you provide.

 

RELINQUISHMENT REMINDER

If a carrier has relinquished its ETC designation, send a copy of the relinquishment order to HC Orders within one week. If USAC does not receive a copy of the relinquishment order within one week, USAC will invoice the carrier for any support paid following the relinquishment. 

 

 

QUESTIONS?

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

AT THE FCC

FCC Holds Rate-of-Return Reform Order Webinar

The FCC held a webinar on April 4, 2016, to discuss the Rate-of-Return Reform Order (FCC 16-33). Review a recording of the webinar or the webinar slides to learn what was covered. In addition, the FCC has posted answers to questions received during the webinar on their website. This document will be updated as new answers are available.

Rate-of-Return Reform Order Overview

The Rate-of-Return Reform Order was released by the FCC on March 30, 2016, and outlines the implementation of the Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM). Carriers can now choose to accept Model based support. If you choose this option, you will receive a set monthly support for a defined period of time and be required to meet specific deployment obligations with interim deployment milestones.
 
Carriers may alternatively elect to continue receiving legacy support. However, broadband requirements will be added. Specifically, ICLS will be renamed Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF BLS), which will include support for broadband-only lines (as well as voice and voice/broadband lines). CAF BLS will provide cost recovery for the difference between a carrier's loop costs associated with providing broadband-only service (the "consumer broadband-only loop revenue requirement") and its consumer broadband-only loop revenues.
 
In addition, the Order resets the currently authorized rate-of-return from 11.25 percent to 9.75 percent for the calculation of interstate common line rates, consumer broadband-only loop rates, special access rates, and universal service calculations. The current 11.25 percent rate of return will be reduced by 25 basis points per year, starting July 1, 2016, and continuing until July 1, 2021, when the authorized rate of return will be 9.75 percent.

FCC 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.

Updated A-CAM Results and Competitive Coverage Challenge Process

On April 7, 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. The results of the challenge process will affect the final support amounts calculated by the A-CAM.

Order Clarifying CAF Phase I/Phase II Location Effective May 11

On April 11, 2016, the FCC published a notice in the Federal Register announcing May 11, 2016, is the effective date of the March 9, 2016 Order (FCC 16-28) that clarified that price cap carriers can use 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 CAF Phase I Round 2 incremental support. The Order also made several modifications to the letter of credit requirements for recipients of Rural Broadband Experiment support.

Comments 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.

FCC 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. These plans can be found on the FCC website
 
Resources
In an effort to streamline the CAF-ICC annual data collection and support the calculation process, we've developed separate templates for Price Cap and Rate of Return carriers to summarize their TRP data before submitting to USAC. This will help eliminate much of the administrative burden in calculating CAF-ICC support and ensure the integrity of the data used for calculation.
 
Submit these summary templates to USAC only along with annual 2016 TRP filings (do not send them to the FCC).
 
The templates are available for download on the High Cost Program Handouts and Reference page and here:
Plans are due June 16, 2016.

 

High Cost Program

Newsletter

May 2016