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.
Join USAC for a webinar on Thursday, January 5 at 2:00 PM, to prepare for the upcoming launch of the HUBB (High Cost Universal Broadband) portal.
Webinar: How to Be Successful with the HUBB Portal
January 5, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Please note: USAC will not discuss or answer policy questions.
Who should attend
Carriers participating in modernized Connect America programs should attend this webinar.
Reporting Geolocated Data in the HUBB
Starting in 2017, carriers participating in modernized Connect America programs must file deployment data with USAC’s HUBB portal showing where they are building out mass-market, high-speed Internet service by precise location. This information will include latitude and longitude coordinates for every location where service is available, and will eventually be displayed on a public-facing map showing the impact of Connect America funding on broadband expansion throughout rural America. HUBB will be available and ready to accept geolocated deployment data in early 2017, in time for a March 1 filing deadline.
If you have any questions about the event or the HUBB portal, please contact HC Questions.
Beginning December 2, 2016, recipients of High Cost Program support will be obligated to offer Lifeline broadband service as outlined in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order.
Most Providers Must Offer Lifeline-Supported Broadband Starting December 2
Service providers that receive high-cost support through the Universal Service Fund and commercially offer service that meets the Lifeline minimum service standards are required to offer Lifeline-supported broadband internet access service (BIAS) starting on December 2, 2016. This change is part of the FCC's 2016 Lifeline Modernization order.
Once you begin offering Lifeline-supported broadband service to customers in your area, file FCC Form 497 to receive reimbursement. Please ensure the Lifeline blocks of FCC Form 498 (blocks 7&8) are completed and submit a Lifeline SAC Request Update before submitting FCC Form 497. Visit USAC's website to learn more.
Details about Broadband Obligations
A recipient of high-cost support is required to offer Lifeline BIAS starting December 2, 2016, if it:
An ETC is that receives high-cost support is not required to offer Lifeline BIAS if it meets one of these conditions and files for forbearance:
About the Lifeline Program
The federal Lifeline Program provides a monthly benefit of $9.25 ($34.25 for subscribers living on Tribal lands) to help eligible low income consumers access phone and, beginning in December 2016, broadband service. The benefit is paid directly to service providers who then pass the cost reduction along to subscribers.
USAC has created a new webpage to serve as a resource for carriers navigating the Rate of Return reform order released by the FCC in late March.
Visit the page now: USAC Rate-of-Return Reform Order Webpage
The site contains links to important information about financial calculations and deployment obligations to help carriers decide whether to elect the new Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) support mechanism created by the order, or remain with a modified version of legacy support mechanisms with Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS) and High Cost Loop Support (HCLS).
The site also includes links to FCC Webinars, answers to stakeholder questions and key dates.
Carriers interested in receiving the new A-CAM support must notify the FCC by email by Tuesday, November 1, 2016. No action is required for carriers that wish to continue to receive support from the reformed legacy mechanisms.
Deployment Obligations for Rate-of-Return Carriers
On October 6, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1141) announcing the availability of information regarding the mandatory deployment obligations that will apply to rate-of-return carriers who remain on legacy universal service support mechanisms.
This information is now posted on USAC’s website on the High Cost Program Search Tools page.
Tariff Procedures Order Released
Also on October 6, 2016, the FCC released the Tariff Procedures Order (DA 16-1145). It establishes procedures for the filing of access charge tariffs and Tariff Review Plans (TRPs) for incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) subject to rate-of-return regulation (rate-of-return LECs) electing to offer broadband-only loop service beginning January 3, 2017.
Thanks to the many carriers who joined us on October 6 for the webinar, "Rate-of-Return Reform Order Q&A."
As directed in the Rate of Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016), USAC has posted to its website resources to aid rate-of-return carriers in determining their capital investment allowance (CIA). Visit the High Cost Search Tools page to view the illustrative CIA results, the CIA worksheet, and documentation of the calculation methodology.
About the Rate-of-Return Capital Investment Allowance
The CIA sets a maximum for capital investment expenses that a rate-of-return carrier may include for purposes of calculating High Cost Loop Support (HCLS) and Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF BLS). As adopted in the Rate-of-Return Reform Order, the CIA will first apply to investment made in 2017.
Calculate Your Investment Allowance
The CIA Resources provide illustrative results showing a carrier’s allowance, had CIA had been applied to its 2015 investment, and a worksheet that allows carriers to calculate the CIA based on their own inputs. In addition, documentation of the CIA methodology is available to accompany the illustrative results and template.
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:
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.
Join the FCC and USAC for a webinar on October 6 to discuss the status of implementation of the 2016 Rate-of-Return Order. The session will include a short presentation, followed by an open Q&A. Carriers are encouraged to submit their questions in advance using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form.
The session will be recorded and available for later viewing in the Online Learning Library.