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1/18/2017USAC Customer Operations and RHC Help Desk Closed: Friday, January 20


USAC’s Customer Operations and RHC Help Desk will be closed on Friday, January 20, 2017 due to the Presidential Inauguration.  These customer service centers will re-open on Monday, January 23, 2017 at their normally scheduled times.  This closure does not affect the Schools and Libraries (E-Rate) Client Service Bureau (CSB) or NLAD Technical 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.

12/21/2016USAC Posts Second Offer for A-CAM Support


On December 20, 2016, USAC posted details of the second offer for A-CAM support, which includes legacy transition payments, to the Rate-of-Return Reform Order section of the website.

12/19/2016Webinar: How to Be Successful with the HUBB Portal - January 5


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
Register Now

Topics

  • An overview of different methods for gathering correct geographic coordinates showing broadband deployment, along with an explanation of the pros and cons of these approaches.
  • A demonstration of a new data validator tool that allows carriers to check the accuracy of their deployment data before officially uploading it to the portal.
  • Answers to questions submitted in advance using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form.
  • Live Q&A

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.

Support
If you have any questions about the event or the HUBB portal, please contact HC Questions.

12/9/2016FCC Releases Public Notice Providing Guidance on Reporting Obligations


On December 8, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1363) providing guidance to Connect America Fund recipients regarding their obligation to report geo-located broadband information and make service milestone certifications to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

11/17/2016High Cost Program ETCs Required to Offer Lifeline Broadband Starting December 2


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:

  • Is commercially providing broadband consistent with its obligations set forth in the Commission's high-cost rules and the Lifeline minimum service standards; or
  • Has deployed a network capable of delivering service that meets the Lifeline minimum service standards, and commercially offers such service pursuant to its high-cost obligations.

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:

  • Receives frozen high-cost support;
  • Does not receive high-cost support in the specific census block;
  • Does not commercially offer a broadband service in the census block that meets the minimum service standards of the Lifeline program pursuant to its high-cost obligations;
  • Has not yet deployed a broadband network consistent with its high-cost public interest obligation to offer broadband (in this case, it does not have an obligation to provide Lifeline broadband service until it deploys a broadband network and is commercially offering service to that area).

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.

11/2/2016E-File Password Reset Requests


On Saturday, October 29, 2016, we upgraded our E-File login platform to provide identity management, single sign-on, and mobility management for our applications.  As a result of this action, online password reset requests will result in an email to the user with further instructions for changing their password.  It may take up to 10 minutes for this email to be delivered to you.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

10/25/2016FCC Releases Deployment Obligations for A-CAM and CAF-BLS


On October 20, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1207) announcing the posting of information comparing the defined deployment obligations that would apply to rate-of-return carriers electing model-based support versus the defined deployment obligations for rate-of-return carriers remaining on the reformed legacy universal service mechanisms (including Connect America Fund-Broadband Loop Support, or CAF-BLS). The Public Notice includes a link to the deployment details.

10/24/2016Rate-of-Return Page Now Available on USAC Website


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.

10/10/2016Broadband Loop Support Buildout Requirement Schedule Now Available


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.

10/7/2016Rate-of-Return Order Q&A Webinar Recording, Q&A Now Available!


Thanks to the many carriers who joined us on October 6 for the webinar, "Rate-of-Return Reform Order Q&A."

A recording of the event is now available in the High Cost Program online learning library, along with the presentation slide deck and selected written Q&A

10/7/2016ACAM Transition Support Amounts Now Available


As outlined in the Rate of Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016), USAC has posted to its website the ACAM transition support for carriers whose ACAM support is less than what they receive under legacy support.

Visit the High Cost Search Tools page to view the details of transition support amounts.

10/5/2016Capital Investment Allowance Worksheet Now Available


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. 

9/28/2016Webinar Invitation: Rate-of-Return Order Q&A with the FCC


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:

  • Status of the implementation of the Rate-of-Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016)
  • Questions submitted in advance (submit yours using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form)
  • Open Q&A

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.

9/28/2016Webinar on October 6: Rate-of-Return Reform Order Q&A


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

9/26/2016September 2016 HC Reporter Issued


The September 2016 HC Reporter is now available. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.