USAC's News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the High Cost Program as they were made throughout the years. The archives will be updated as new announcements are made.
RESOLVED - USAC is currently experiencing a phone system outage affecting our Customer Operations call center, the Rural Health Care Help Desk, and employee phones. We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
This outage does not affect the E-rate Program's Client Service Bureau (CSB). We apologize for any inconvenience.
Please stay up to date with your regulatory filings. USAC reminds rate-of-return carriers that it will withhold funding from carriers that do not submit data needed to calculate High Cost Program support.
In the Rate of Return Reform Order released on March 30, 2016, the FCC created a model-based funding mechanism for rate-of-return carriers and is asking carriers to choose between the new cost model and a modified version of the existing support system.
Carriers that elect the new Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) will receive a set amount of monthly support over 10 years and will need to meet defined build-out obligations. Carriers that choose to stick with the modified legacy funding mechanism, Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS), will receive funding - and be required to meet deployment obligations – that are calculated using data submitted by carriers.
Specifically, the FCC and USAC will use FCC Form 477 data to conduct competitive overlap analysis and calculate deployment obligations; study area boundary data to calculate study area density and set operating expense limitations; and data to determine the capital investment allowance. Without this information, USAC will be unable to calculate carrier support, including support for carriers that elect the CAF-BLS path, and will withhold funding until this information is submitted.
Carriers should therefore be certain that all data filed with the FCC, including FCC Form 477 data and study area boundary data, are up-to-date and accurate. Any data revisions should be filed as soon as possible. These filings are in addition to the FCC Form 481 (54.313), the annual use certification (54.314) and deployment data (54.316) that carriers are required to submit in order to receive High Cost Program support (as specified in 54.903).
As announced in a Public Notice (DA 16-601), released on May 31, 2016, the FCC Form 481 has been OMB-approved. As such, the certify button and bulk certification options are now active and carriers can make their final certifications.
This filing is required for all ETCs participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs with the exception of participants in Phase I Mobility Fund [section 54.313(k)]. FCC Form 481 is due Friday, July 1, 2016.
FCC Form 481 Templates and Resources
Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) can log into E-File and access the FCC Form 481. USAC has also posted the FCC Form 481 Template (PDF version), filing instructions, and all necessary upload templates to our website.
While the names of these files on our website have been updated to reflect the approval of the form, the content has not changed as a result of the approval. These can all be found on the High Cost Forms and Lifeline Forms pages.
In addition, a recording of the webinar held about this year's FCC Form 481 submission may be accessed on the USAC website.
On June 3, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-618) providing guidance to price cap carriers that accepted Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase I incremental support regarding upcoming validation of compliance for Phase I incremental support. In response to informal inquiries from CAF Phase I incremental support recipients, the FCC provided guidance about the types of documentation that recipients should be prepared to produce upon request. Examples of potentially relevant documentation would include, but not be limited to:
• Engineering studies,
• Construction schedules,
• Records of plant placed in service,
• Network maps,
• Advertising materials, and/or
• Customer subscription records.
Carriers should be prepared to produce their capital improvement plan from the time period immediately pre-dating the acceptance of CAF Phase I incremental support for either round. Carriers also should be prepared to produce documentation demonstrating the steps taken to determine an area was not already served according to the then-current National Broadband Map or slated to become served as a BIP or BTOP project, to the best of their knowledge. Carriers that accepted funding in the second round to deploy to locations shown on the then current National Broadband Map as already served by them with 3 Mbps/768 kbps should be prepared to produce documentation that those locations were served at the time of acceptance through a copper-fed digital subscriber line access multiplexer.
After the webinar, "Overview of the FCC's Rate-of-Return Reforms" (presented April 4, 2016), the FCC prepared written answers to some of the questions submitted during the event.
The FCC is still reviewing some of the questions received during the webinar, and will update the FAQ document with additional answers over the next few weeks.
Thank you again for your thoughtful questions during the webinar. Resources from the event are available in USAC's Online Learning Library. And if you have additional questions about the Rate-of-Return reforms, please send them to HC Questions.
On April 28, 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. Comments to challenge coverage data for competitors will be due April 28, 2016.
USAC is pleased to announce that eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) can now log into E-File and access FCC Form 481, the Carrier Annual Reporting Data Collection Form, which is due Friday, July 1, 2016 for Program Year 2017.
FCC Form 481 is required for all ETCs participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs, with the exception of participants who only receive Phase I Mobility Fund (Section 54.313(k)).
USAC has posted drafts of these items on the High Cost Forms and Lifeline Forms pages:
These documents will be posted as drafts until Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval is complete. Upon approval, USAC will post updated versions of these documents and notify carriers.
Carriers May Begin, but Not Certify, FCC Form 481 Filing
Please note that carriers may begin the filing, but will not be able to certify the filing.
Currently, the form and instructions are still pending OMB approval, and as a result, the "certify" button and bulk certify options will be disabled until approval has been made.
USAC will send notification when the "certify" buttons are activated.
Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) can now access the FCC Form 690, the Mobility Fund Phase 1 Annual Report Form, in E-File.
Log in now: FCC Form 690 in E-File
The FCC Form 690 is required for all participants in Phase I Mobility Fund [Section 54.313(k)]. The annual filing is due Friday, July 1, 2016. USAC has also posted the following resources on the High Cost Program Forms page:
Please note that the FCC Form 690 is required for all participants in Phase I Mobility Fund [Section 54.313(k)], including 902 auction winners.
Due to Metrorail's closure, USAC will have limited telephone customer support on Wednesday, March 16 for USAC Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will not be affected.
During this time we recommend that you submit all inquiries via email. Thank you!
On March 9, 2016, the FCC released an Order (FCC 16-28) to clarify that price cap carriers can use Connect America Fund (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 Phase I Round 2 incremental support. The order also makes several modifications to the letter of credit requirements for recipients of Rural Broadband Experiment support.
USAC will be upgrading our phone system beginning at 6:00 PM ET Friday, January 29. This will impact USAC's Customer Service via (888) 641-8722, the RHC Help Desk via (800) 453-1546, the USAC main number, individual employee direct lines, and our fax lines. Calls and faxes to these numbers will not go through and callers will be unable to reach voicemail. Our phone system will be available again Monday, February 1 at 7:00 AM.
The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.