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News Archive

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.


  

7/7/2016USAC Customer Operations and RHC Help Desk Closed: Monday, July 11


USAC’s Customer Operations and RHC Help Desk will be closed on Monday, July 11 due to an office move.  These customer service centers will re-open on Tuesday, July 12 at their normally scheduled times.  This closure does not affect the Schools and Libraries (E-Rate) Client Service Bureau (CSB) or NLAD Technical Support.

6/16/2016E-File Outage for FCC Form 481 Filers Due to System Maintenance: Monday, June 20


USAC's E-File system for FCC Form 481 filers will be unavailable Monday, June 20, from 7:00-9:00 AM ET, for system maintenance. The online FCC Form 481 will not be accessible for contributors or service providers. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Form 690 online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

6/3/2016E-File Outage for FCC Form 481 Filers Due to System Maintenance: Monday, June 6


USAC's E-File system for FCC Form 481 filers will be unavailable Monday, June 6, from 4:00-6:00 PM ET, for system maintenance. The online FCC Form 481 will not be accessible for contributors or service providers. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Form 690 online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/17/2016Tariff Review Plan Templates


USAC has developed submission templates to help you with your Tariff Review Plans, due June 16, 2016. Access the templates on the Handouts & Reference page. Completed templates should be submitted with your TRP.

5/17/2016May 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

5/6/2016FCC Releases Density Data


On May 3, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-478) announcing the release of rate-of-return study area density data. Density will be used in implementing various reforms adopted by the FCC in the Rate-of-Return Reform Order.

4/27/2016Overview of the FCC's Rate-of-Return Reforms Webinar FAQs Available


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.

An initial batch of answers to the audience's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are now available on the FCC's Connect America Fund page, or you can download them here.

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.

4/20/2016FCC Releases Tariff Review Plan Order


On April 13, 2016, the FCC released an Order (DA 16-399) setting forth the Tariff Review Plans (TRPs) that are available for all incumbent local exchange carriers to use to support the annual revisions to the rates in their interstate access service tariffs. TRPs are due June 16, 2016.

4/14/2016Comments on Rate-of-Return USF Reform FNPRM Due May 12


On April 12, 2016, the FCC published the FNPRM attached to the March 30, 2016 Rate-of-Return USF Reform Order in the Federal Register. The FNPRM seeks comments on proposed rule changes to the FCC’s accounting and affiliate transaction rules for ratemaking and USF support purposes “to eliminate inefficiencies and provide guidance to rate-of-return carriers regarding the FCC’s expectations for appropriate expenditures.” The FNPRM also seeks comments on: methods for reducing support in competitive areas; increasing support for RoR carriers in tribal lands and unserved areas; measures to improve the operation of the current rate-of-return system; and streamlining ETC annual reporting requirements. Comments are due May 12; replies due June 13.

4/11/2016Updated A-CAM Results and Competitive Coverage Challenge Process


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. 

4/6/2016FCC Announces the Results of 2016 Urban Rate Survey


On April 5, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-362) announcing the results of the 2016 urban rate survey for fixed voice and broadband services. Under the FCC’s rules ILEC ETCs must report in their annual FCC Form 481 the number of residential service lines for which the sum of the local rate and state fees is below the rate floor set in this Public Notice.

4/6/2016April 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

4/1/2016FCC Form 481 Now Available; Due July 1


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:

  • FCC Form 481 Template
  • Filing instructions
  • Upload templates

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.

3/31/20162015 USAC Annual Report Now Available


USAC's 2015 Annual Report highlights the strategic groundwork put in place to support the modernization orders from the FCC. USAC developed a strategy and approach to maximize program impact and amplify our dedication to the mission of universal service. The Annual Report demonstrates these strategic shifts and showcases detailed supporting numbers for each program area.

3/31/2016FCC Announces Webinar on Rate-of-Return Reform: April 4


The FCC will host a webinar on Monday, April 4, 2016, from 2:00-3:30 PM ET, to provide a summary of the reforms to the high-cost support mechanisms for rate-of-return carriers adopted in the Rate-of-Return Reform Order. Interested parties may register here.

3/30/2016E-File Outage for FCC Form 481 Filers Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, March 31


USAC's E-File system for FCC Form 481 filers will be unavailable Thursday, March 31, from 5:00-7:00 PM ET, for system maintenance. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Form 481 online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

3/25/2016FCC Form 690 Now Available in E-File - Due July 1, 2016


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:

  • A PDF version of FCC Form 690,
  • OMB-approved filing instructions and an online filing user guide,
  • A video series about filing FCC Form 690, and
  • The necessary upload template.

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.

3/15/2016Limited Telephone Customer Support on Wednesday, March 16


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!

3/15/2016Multiple System Outages Due to Maintenance: March 15


Portions of USAC's NLAD System, High Cost and Lifeline forms in E-File, and certain tools for the High Cost, Lifeline, Rural Health Care, and Schools and Libraries Programs will be unavailable Tuesday, March 15, beginning at 9:00 PM through 1:00 AM ET, Wednesday, March 16, for system maintenance. Contributor forms, My Portal, and EPC will not be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience.

3/11/2016March 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

3/11/2016FCC Releases Order Regarding CAF Phase II Support and RBE Requirements


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.

Competitive Providers Must Notify PRTC of Service Overlap by April 18 for CAF Phase I Support
On March 4, 2016, the FCC issued a Public Notice (DA 16-250) to announce that providers have until April 18, 2016, to notify Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) that they currently offer Internet service at speeds of 3 Mbps/768 kbps or higher in PRTC’s newly identified census blocks for Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase I Round 2 support. On February 19, 2016, PRTC notified the FCC that it intends to modify its CAF Phase I Round 2 incremental broadband deployment plans, and submitted a list of 323 census blocks that it had not previously identified with its initial election where it now intends to serve locations using Phase I incremental support.

3/7/2016CoBank Supports Universal Service Fund Contributions Reform


On February 29, 2016 CoBank filed a letter with the FCC that states it is time to consider what needs to be done next to continue to support the deployment and maintenance of broadband in rural America. CoBank believes that the examination and reform of the
universal service fund’s contributions mechanism is long overdue to maintain the viability of the program.

2/18/2016Electric Utilities Urge CAF Phase II Auction Framework Supportive of Fiber


On January 13, 2016, Co-Mo Electric, Midwest Energy, SyncGlobal Telecom, the Fiber Networks Owners Alliance, the North Georgia Network, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the Utilities Telecom Council met with FCC staff to express support for a Connect America Fund Phase II auction framework that would promote opportunities for fiber projects to successfully bid for access to funding in unserved areas. Read the summary

NTCA, ITTA, and USTelecom Support Updating Universal Service Fund Mechanisms for Standalone Broadband
On January 20, 2016, NTCA, ITTA, and USTelecom met with FCC staff to express support for a simple and straightforward means of updating existing universal service mechanisms to support standalone broadband services. Read the summary

Totah and WTA Discuss Universal Service Fund Reform for RoR Carriers
On January 21, 2016, Totah Communications and WTA met with FCC staff to discuss various potential features of the Rate of Return path, including options for build-out requirements, distribution of high-cost support in areas served by unsubsidized competitors, budgets and budget controls, capital expenditure and operating expense limitations, and rate re-prescription. Read the summary

ITTA Proposes Density-Based Speed Requirements for RoR Model-Based Partially Funded Locations
On January 19, 2016, ITTA filed a letter proposing that the FCC take into account the density of the study area served by a RoR carrier when considering increasing the speed standard from the 10/1 Mbps standard previously established for price-cap carriers. Read the letter

Nebraska Companies Argue Against Alternative Technologies for Partially Funded Locations
On January 19, 2016, Nebraska Companies filed a letter noting they have advocated providing model-opting RoR companies at least $200 million annually in additional support plus their legacy support, or provide up to $200 monthly per eligible location. Read the letter

2/4/2016February 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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

1/29/2016USAC Phone/Fax System Outage Due to System Upgrade - January 29 to February 1


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.

1/25/2016USAC Will Remain Closed on Monday, January 25 Due to Inclement Weather


Due to inclement weather, USAC will remain closed on Monday, January 25 

This closure includes USAC's Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.

1/22/2016USAC Will Close at 12:00 PM ET January 22 Due to Inclement Weather


Due to inclement weather, USAC will close at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, January 22. 

This closure includes USAC's Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.

USAC will re-open on Monday, January 25, 2016, with normal business hours and will respond to all inquiries at that time. Thank you!

1/13/2016ViaSat Discusses Connect America Fund Phase II


On December 2, 2015, ViaSat met with FCC staff to discuss Connect America Fund Phase II and ViaSat’s positions regarding the role satellite-delivered broadband should play in the FCC’s Connect America Fund structuring. Read the summary (ViaSat, Dec 2)

USTelecom, NTCA, NECA, et al. Discuss Asset Allocation Under Bifurcated Approach
On December 3, 2015, USTelecom, NTCA, Alexicon, GVNW, JSI, and NECA spoke via telephone with FCC staff to discuss the mechanics of allocating various expenses and support assets under the bifurcated approach to universal service fund reform. Read the summary (USTelecom, NTCA, et al.)

NECA Discusses Allocation of Expenses and Assets Under Bifurcated Approach
On December 7, 2015, NECA spoke via telephone with FCC staff to discuss the mechanics of allocating various expenses and support assets under the FCC’s proposed bifurcated approach. Read the summary (NECA)

ITTA Discusses Buildout Obligations Under Model-Based Universal Service Fund Support Plan
On December 7 and 8, 2015, ITTA met with FCC staff to discuss elements of proposed universal service reform for the rate-of-return industry. Read the summary (ITTA)
       
NARUC Discusses its Resolution on Connect America Fund
On December 4, 2015, NARUC’s President and General Counsel met with FCC staff to discuss NARUC’s November 2015 resolution that supports the objectives of the Connect America Fund and its Remote Areas Fund component. Read the summary (NARUC)

ViaSat Advocates Competitively Neutral Connect America Fund Phase II Auction
On December 7, 2015, ViaSat spoke by telephone with FCC staff and emphasized its support for a competitively neutral, market-based bidding mechanism that distributes Connect America Fund Phase II support to the lowest-cost bidder. Read the summary (ViaSat, Dec 7)

1/12/2016USTelecom, NTCA, et al. Suggest Changes to Mechanics of Bifurcated Approach


On November 23, 2015, USTelecom, NTCA, Alexicon, Moss Adams, GVTC, and Hargray Telecommunications spoke by telephone with FCC staff to discuss the mechanics of the bifurcated approach to universal service fund reform. Read the summary (USTelecom, NTCA...)

Nebraska Companies Urge Adoption of Model-Based Universal Service Fund Support Option
On November 24, 2015, Harold Furchtgott-Roth met with FCC staff on behalf of the Nebraska Companies to discuss the importance of moving forward with a model option for rate-of-return carrier universal service support. Read the summary (Harold Furchtgott-Roth)

USTelecom and Larger Carriers Discuss Connect America Fund Phase II Auction Design
On November 19, 2015, Windstream, CenturyLink, AT&T, Verizon, FairPoint, Frontier, and USTelecom met with FCC staff to discuss the proposed Connect America Fund Phase II auction design framework order. Read the summary (Windstream, CenturyLink...)

ACA Calls for Less Onerous Requirements for Small Providers for Connect America Fund Phase II Competitive Bidding
On November 23, 2015, the American Cable Association met with FCC staff to discuss the Connect America Fund Phase II competitive bidding process and the order on circulation to establish a framework for that process. Read the summary (American Cable Association)

ACA Advocates Less Onerous Connect America Fund Phase II Financial Requirements for Small Providers
On November 30, 2015, the American Cable Association met with FCC staff to discuss the Connect America Fund Phase II competitive bidding process and the order on circulation to establish a framework for that process. Read the summary (Financial Requirements)

LICT, Totah, and WTA Discuss Tariff and Pricing Impacts of Universal Service Fund Reform
On December 1, 2015, LICT Corporation, Totah Communications, and WTA met with FCC staff to discuss the tariff and pricing impacts of potential changes to High Cost Program support mechanisms for rural carriers. Read the summary (LICT, Totah...)

NTCA and Arent Fox Stress Need for Predictable, Sufficient Support for RLECs
On December 3, 2015, NTCA and Arent Fox met with FCC staff to discuss the unique challenges faced by smaller firms that operate exclusively across high-cost, rural areas and the importance of predictable and sufficient universal service support to such firms. Read the summary (NTCA, Arent Fox)

ITTA Discusses Broadband Obligations for Model-Based Universal Service Fund Support
On December 3, 2015, ITTA met with FCC staff to discuss elements of proposed universal service reform for the rate-of-return industry. Read the summary (ITTA)

1/8/2016Wheeler Responds to Congress on Competitive Overlap Determinations for RoR Carriers


On November 24, 2015, Chairman Wheeler sent letters to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Ron Wyden (D–OR), and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D–OR) in response to their letter, which expressed concern about the methodology used to determine rate-of-return (RoR) carrier study areas that are fully served by unsubsidized competitors and the reliability of FCC Form 477 data to make the preliminary determinations. Read the letters (Competitive Overlap)

Wheeler Responds to Senator Manchin on Mobility Fund
On November 24, 2015, Chairman Wheeler sent a letter to Senator Joe Manchin (D–WV) in response to his letter, which expressed concern that the FCC is not fulfilling its statutory mission to make sure all Americans have access to advanced communications services and suggested the Mobility Fund provides an opportunity to achieve that goal. Read the letter (Mobility Fund)

FCC Extends Allband Waiver
On December 7, 2015, the FCC released an Order (DA 15-1390) extending a waiver previously granted to Allband Communications Cooperative for an additional six months until the earlier of either June 30, 2016, or the date on which further action is taken on the pending waiver request. Read Order (DA 15-1390) 

Comments Invited on Application to Discontinue Service
On December 18, 2015, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 15-1456) inviting comments on the application of Northeast Florida Telephone Company to discontinue domestic telecommunications services. Comments are due by January 19, 2016. Read Public Notice (DA 15-1456) 

FCC Releases 2015 Universal Service Monitoring Report
The FCC released the eighteenth report in a series prepared by federal and state staff members for the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service. This report is generally based on information available as of September 2015. These reports contain information designed to monitor the impact of various universal service support mechanisms and the method used to finance them. Read the Report

Chairman Wheeler Responds to Sen. Schatz on Protecting SIC Consumers During Audit
On December 15, 2015, Chairman Wheeler sent a letter to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) in response to his letter requesting the FCC prevent the disruption of services to SIC's customers while USAC conducts an audit of SIC. Chairman Wheeler said if SIC were to file a request for discontinuance of services, the FCC would consider whether any customers would have difficulty in transitioning to alternative services. Read the letter (SIC Consumers)

1/7/2016January 2016 HC Reporter Issued


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