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4/20/2017FCC Form 481 Due July 3, 2017

Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) can now log in to E-File and access the FCC Form 481, Carrier Annual Reporting Data Collection Form. 

You can find draft versions of the FCC Form 481 Template (PDF version), filing instructions, and all necessary upload templates, on the High Cost and Lifeline Forms web pages.

Please note that these documents are all drafts until the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provides Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) approval. You may begin and save your FCC Form 481, but will not be able to certify the filing. The certify and bulk certify buttons will be disabled until OMB approves the form. USAC will send a notification email when the buttons are activated and you are able to certify your filing.


4/12/2017FCC Announces Alaska Comparability Benchmarks

On April 11, 2017, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 17-346) announcing the reasonable comparability voice and broadband benchmarks and confirming the minimum usage allowance requirements for Alaska Plan rate-of-return carriers and Alaska Communication Systems (ACS).

4/11/2017E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: April 13

USAC's E-File system (including My Portal) will be unavailable for all users on Thursday, April 13, from 9:00-11:00 PM ET, for system maintenance. All online FCC forms for contributors, service providers, eligible telecommunications carriers, and health care providers will not be accessible. During this time, users will be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Forms 460, 461, 462, 463, 465, 466, 467, 473, 481, 497, 498, 499, 555, or 690. 

NLAD and EPC will not be affected by this outage. We apologize for any inconvenience.

3/23/2017HUBB Filing Requirements Receive PRA Approval

On March 22, 2017, the FCC announced approval for the information collection associated with the Commission's Connect America Fund,Report and Order, Order and Order on Reconsideration, April 25, 2016, Report and Order, July 7, 2016, and Order, November 22, 2016. For more information, please see our HUBB landing page.  

3/9/2017FCC Releases Mobility Fund Phase II Order

On March 7, 2017, the FCC released an Order (FCC 17-11) adopting the framework for moving forward with the Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) and Tribal Mobility Fund Phase II, which will allocate up to $4.53 billion over the next decade to advance the deployment of 4G LTE service to areas that are so costly that the private sector has not yet deployed there and to preserve such service where it might not otherwise exist.  

2/24/2017HUBB Filing Deadlines

The High Cost Universal Broadband (HUBB) portal will soon be ready to accept broadband deployment data from carriers participating in the modernized Connect America Fund (CAF) programs. This data will show where carriers are building out mass-market, high-speed Internet service, and will eventually be displayed on a public-facing map showing the impact of Connect America funding on broadband expansion throughout rural America.

Extension of HUBB Filing Deadlines
On February 24, 2017, the FCC released an Order (DA 17-196) (1) temporarily extending the March 1, 2017 HUBB portal filing deadline for Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II carriers and Connect America Fund-Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS) recipients, and (2) clarifying the HUBB portal filing obligations for Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) recipients with respect to “pre-existing” locations. As a result of this order, the first HUBB filing deadline for Phase II carriers will be no sooner than July 1, 2017, and the first HUBB filing deadline for CAF-BLS and A-CAM recipients will be no sooner than March 1, 2018. 

Pursuant to the Order:

  1. CAF Phase II carriers (including Alaska Communications Systems) must file locations deployed in 2016 by the later of July 1, 2017 or two weeks after Federal Register publication of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act, of the information collection requirements related to the HUBB portal (PRA approval).
  2. CAF BLS recipients must file locations deployed between May 25, 2016 (the effective date of the Rate-of-Return Reform Order) and December 31, 2016 by the later of March 11, 2018 or two weeks after PRA approval.
  3. A-CAM recipients must file locations deployed in 2016 and earlier (“pre-existing locations”) by March 1, 2019. (The FCC’s earlier public notice stated that pre-existing locations for ACAM recipients included locations deployed in 2015 and earlier.) As the rules currently require, A-CAM recipients must file locations deployed in 2017 by March 1, 2018.

HUBB Portal Launch Date
• The HUBB will be launched soon. USAC will notify carriers and other stakeholders when it becomes available.
• Until Paperwork Reduction Act approval is granted, carrier officers will not be able to certify location data.
• USAC will provide updates on the HUBB resource page, through the HUBB email distribution list, and other ongoing communications with stakeholders. For regular updates on the HUBB, please sign up for the HUBB email distribution list, entitled "High Cost Detailed HUBB Updates," in USAC's Subscription Center.

2/14/2017FCC Announces Results of 2017 Urban Rate Survey

On February 14, 2017, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 17-167) announcing the 2017 rate floor for incumbent ETCs and reasonable comparability benchmarks for fixed voice and broadband services. In addition, the notice announced the posting of the fixed voice and broadband services data collected in the most recent urban rate survey, and explanatory notes regarding the data, on the FCC’s website. The notice also announces the required minimum usage allowance for ETCs subject to public interest obligations for fixed broadband.

The Public Notice indicates that each ETC providing fixed voice services must certify in the FCC Form 481 filed no later than July 1, 2017, that the pricing of its basic residential voice services is no more than $49.51. The reasonable comparability broadband benchmark varies, depending upon the supported service’s download and upload bandwidths and usage allowance. A table providing the details can be found in the Public Notice.

2/10/2017HUBB Is Coming Soon, Be Prepared! FAQs Now Available

The High Cost Universal Broadband (HUBB) portal will soon be live and ready to accept broadband deployment data from carriers participating in the modernized Connect America programs.

Carriers can take steps now to prepare for the HUBB launch and be ready to file data showing where they are building out mass-market, high-speed Internet service.

USAC is committed to helping carriers file successfully with the HUBB. Below are some resources from USAC and the FCC to help carriers collect geolocated broadband deployment data, check its accuracy, and upload it to the portal:

2/9/2017Buildout Methodology Selection made by All Carriers for CAF Broadband Loop Support

USAC has collected the buildout methodology selection made by all carriers for Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support, including those with no buildout requirement (NBR). This information is now posted on USAC’s website on the High Cost Program Tools page.

2/7/2017Deployment Obligations for Rate-of-Return Carriers

On February 3, 2017, the FCC released updated information regarding the mandatory deployment obligations that will apply to rate-of-return carriers who remain on legacy universal service support mechanisms. This updated information now includes deployment obligations for ASTCA.

This information is now posted on USAC’s website on the High Cost Program Search Tools page. 

1/24/2017FCC Authorizes Revised A-CAM Support

On January 24, 2017, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 17-99) authorizing 182 rate-of-return companies that elected 217 revised offers of Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) support to receive model-based support. Nationwide, a total of 207 rate-of-return carriers in 43 states have now been authorized to receive A-CAM support.

1/13/2017Elect A-CAM by January 19 or Remain with High Cost Legacy Funding

Carriers have until 5:30 PM EST on Thursday, January 19, 2017, to notify the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they elect to receive High Cost Program support based on the Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM). Carriers can make this election on a state-by-state basis. 

No action is required if carriers wish to continue to receive support from reformed legacy mechanisms, including Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS) and High Cost Loop Support (HCLS), if applicable. If a carrier fails to submit any final election letter by the January 19, 2017 deadline, it will remain on legacy support.

To Select A-CAM Support
To elect A-CAM support, carriers must email the FCC at ConnectAmerica@fcc.gov and indicate their A-CAM election in the email, along with specific state elections (if applicable). Elections will be considered timely if the FCC receives them by 5:30 PM EST on January 19, 2017. (Note: please see 47 CFR Section 0.403, 1.7). Carriers should not mail a hard copy of their election letter to the FCC.

Carriers submitting election letter emails will receive an e-mail confirmation receipt from the FCC.  Should carriers not receive this receipt, they should contact the FCC, via email or via phone at (202) 418-7400, no later than 4:00 PM EST on January 19, 2017. Confirmation of receipt does not constitute authorization to receive A-CAM support.

Background on A-CAM
The Rate-of-Return Order allows carriers to elect the new A-CAM model, which provides a set amount of monthly support over 10 years, or remain with a reformed version of legacy support mechanisms, including CAF-BLS and HCLS. After receiving initial carrier elections by November 1, the FCC took a number of steps to address high demand for A-CAM support. 

Those steps include allocating an additional $50 million annually to the A-CAM budget and making revised offers to 191 carriers that previously elected A-CAM. The methodology used to calculate the revised offers reduces support by varying percentages based on how many locations in a carrier’s eligible service territory still lack access to broadband speeds of 10 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabit per second upstream. Carriers that accept the revised offer of support must agree to meet the terms of the original A-CAM offer if additional support becomes available in 2017 to fund the original offers.

More Resources
For more information, please visit our Rate of Return Reform Order web page. If you have any questions, please contact us at HC Questions.

1/6/2017How to File Successfully in HUBB

On January 5, 2017, USAC held a webinar "Successfully Filing Broadband Deployment Data with USAC". A recording of the webinar and a copy of the slide deck are now available on the website.

12/28/2016FCC Authorizes Support and Approves Performance Plans for Alaska Plan Participants

On December 21, 2016,  the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1425) authorizing Alaska Plan support for 13 Alaskan rate-of-return carriers. A separate Public Notice (DA 16-1419), approving the performance plans  of the eight wireless providers that elected to participate in the Alaska Plan, was released at the same time. Both documents may be accessed on the Rate-of-Return Reform Order page.

12/28/2016FCC Announces A-CAM Support

On December 20, 2016 the FCC released an Order (FCC 16-178) adopting measures to address the significant demand for A-CAM support. At the same time, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1422) authorizing 35 rate-of-return companies to receive more than $51 million annually in A-CAM support  and announced offers of revised A-CAM support amounts to 191 rate-of-return companies. Both documents may be accessed on the Rate-of-Return Reform Order page.