Get Started »
Providing reliable, robust telecommunications service requires extensive networks of complex equipment. Building and maintaining these networks, situated in remote, geographically challenging locations or where few people live, can put the cost of providing service beyond the reach of any telephone company.
The High Cost Program provides support to eligible companies, enabling them to charge rates and provide services that are comparable to those available in urban areas, which are easier and more cost-effective to serve.
If you are a telecommunications company interested in learning more about your eligibility for the High Cost Program or would like to get started in the process, the first step is to review the process for becoming eligible. Once you’ve reviewed the process, click on Step 1 to learn what is supported in the program.
If you are a State Commission and are looking for information about your role in the High Cost Program, the first step is to review the process by which carriers become eligible. Once you’ve reviewed the process, click on Step 1 to learn how to notify USAC of new eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) designations.
For more information on the High Cost Program, review the Glossary of High Cost Terms.
USAC is responsible for data collection and maintenance, support calculation, and disbursement for the five components of the High Cost Program. In 2011, this support totaled over $4 billion to telecommunications carriers throughout all states and U.S. territories.
USAC reviews companies’ claims for support to ensure they are consistent with the Federal Communication Commission's rules. In addition to reviewing claims data, USAC also conducts High Cost beneficiary audits to ensure program compliance.
The primary participants in the High Cost Program are rural and non-rural incumbent local exchange carriers and competitors that serve customers in the service areas of incumbent carriers. Currently, over 1,850 eligible telecommunications carriers receive High Cost support.
In order to participate in the High Cost Program, a wireline or wireless telephone company must be an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC). A telephone company can become an ETC by designation of its state utility regulator, or in some cases, by the Federal Communications Commission.
ETC-designated carriers have ongoing requirements for participating in the program, usually on a quarterly basis. These requirements include submitting certifications for use of High Cost support, updating line count information, and for incumbent local exchange carriers, filing certain cost and revenue information in order to receive proper support.