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USAC's Latest News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the universal service programs as they were made throughout the years.

7/12/2019News Brief Issued


The 7/12/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

7/12/2019FCC Issues NPRM on Category Two Budgets


The FCC has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (FCC 19-58, released July 9, 2019) that proposes to make the Category Two budget approach permanent, and also seeks comment on potential modifications that could simplify the budgets, decrease the administrative burden of applying for Category Two services, and thereby speed the deployment of Wi-Fi in schools and libraries across the country.

 

Comments on the NPRM are due 30 days after the publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 45 days after publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register. To submit comments, follow the instructions in the Filing Comments and Reply Comments paragraph in the NPRM.

7/11/2019FCC Releases Draft Report and Order: Promoting Telehealth in America


On July 11, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the Tentative Agenda for the August Open Meeting. In the Agenda, the Commission states that they will be considering a Report and Order regarding Promoting Telehealth in America. The Draft Report and Order would overhaul the Rural Health Care Program by streamlining and simplifying the way health care providers apply for and calculate universal service support amounts, promoting transparency and predictability in the program, and taking new steps to guard against waste, fraud, and abuse.

Read the Draft Report and Order here

The USAC Rural Health Care Program team will be communicating information about this FCC Report and Order. Please submit your questions to the RHC Help Desk at RHC-Assist@usac.org. 

7/11/2019FCC Seeks Comment On Proposed Connected Care Pilot Program


On July 11, 2019 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed to establish a three-year, $100 million Connected Care Pilot program that would support bringing telehealth services directly to low-income patients and veterans.

The proposed Connected Care Pilot would provide an 85% discount on connectivity for broadband-enabled telehealth services that connect patients directly to their doctors and are used to treat a wide range of health conditions. These services can facilitate the effective treatment of chronic conditions outside of the doctor’s office, at significant savings for patients and health care providers.

The proposed Pilot program would not divert resources from the existing Rural Health Care Program or any existing universal service fund programs. Instead, it is proposed that USAC would be required to separately collect on a quarterly basis the funds needed for the duration of the Pilot program

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeks comment on testing a new program, using the FCC’s existing Rural Health Care Program authority that would defray the costs of purchasing broadband Internet access service necessary for providing connected care services directly to low-income patients and veterans.

 

Read the NPRM here

7/10/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance - July 11


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00-11:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 11 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

7/3/2019RHC Newsletter for July 2019


Latest News

FY2019 Application Filing Window Closed
Thank you to all program participants who submitted forms for Funding Year 2019 (FY2019)! The FY2019 application filing window has now closed, and no additional funding request forms will be accepted. Your feedback and continued dedication to the program is always appreciated, and we look forward to working with all of you to continuously improve the RHC Program.

Coming Soon! RHC Website Updates
Over the next few months, RHC will be refreshing the content on the RHC public website, usac.org/rhc. Our goal is to make information easier to find and understand for all applicants, and changes will include consolidating information and simplifying the content. Don’t worry! We will share more information about any changes before they happen. 


Important Reminders

Account Holder Guidance
Now that the FY2019 application filing window has closed, it is a great time to review your health care provider's (HCP’s) account holders. USAC recommends having at least one secondary account holder per HCP. We’ve created guides for primary account holders with instructions for adding additional account holders in My Portal:

What to Do if You Receive an Information Request
USAC cannot complete their review of FCC Forms submitted with incomplete or missing documentation, and RHC reviewers will reach out to all account holders (the primary and all secondary and tertiary account holders associated with that HCP) with a request for additional information (“Information Request”). Information Requests are sent to collect any missing documentation, address deficiencies, or to ask clarifying questions about the FCC Form. If you receive an Information Request, you must respond to it within 14 calendar days. Failure to respond within the 14 calendar day timeframe will result in a denial of funding, so be sure to meet that deadline.

Information Request Tips for the Telecom Program

  • Applicants can receive Telecom Information Requests through My Portal OR by email
    • For Information Requests received through My Portal, applicants should respond through My Portal only
    • For email Information Requests, applicants should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request
  • Use Chrome/Firefox Only when using My Portal
  • When uploading a document as a response, the document should be limited to 10MB, and the document name should not contain any special characters, only letters and numbers

Information Request Tips for the HCF Program

  • Applicants that receive HCF Program Information Requests through email and should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request. 

FCC Form 460 Best Practice
During the submission of an FCC Form 460 (HCF Eligibility and Registration Form), we recommend that applicants upload any supporting documentation necessary to validate form data to the “Supporting Documentation” section. This includes any documentation that is relevant to the required fields of the FCC Form 460. Doing so creates additional visibility into the HCP and increases the chance of a faster review. A few examples include:

  • Hospital licenses, with the address clearly posted, to verify a non-profit hospital
  • A recent bill or lease, with the address clearly posted, to verify the HCP address provided on the FCC Form 460
  • Public tax documents to verify the Non-Profit Tax ID (EIN)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) accreditation to verify a community health center

Please keep in mind that the FCC Form 460 review can take up to 30 days. You can submit your FCC Form 460 at any time during the funding year.

Filing an Appeal
Any party that wishes to appeal a USAC decision must file an appeal with USAC within 60 days of the date when USAC issued the decision. All appeals must be sent to RHC-Appeals@usac.org.  The following information must be included in the appeal:

  • Applicant or service provider who is filing the appeal (i.e. HCP number, service provider’s 498 ID (SPIN))
  • Contact information of the person who can discuss the appeal with USAC in detail  (include name, address, telephone number, and email address)
  • Documentation of USAC's decision (e.g., copy of USAC's decision letter being appealed)
  • Supporting documentation such as forms and previous correspondence with USAC
  • A precise explanation of the resolution sought through the appeal

USAC may reach out for additional information while reviewing your appeal, but failure to provide all of the information above within the 60 days may result in denial of your appeal. Parties seeking a waiver of FCC rules (e.g., waiver of deadlines) should file an appeal directly with the Commission as USAC cannot waive FCC rules.  For more information on filing appeals with USAC or the FCC, please visit the appeals page of the USAC website or contact us.

Consortia Resources
HCF Program applicants who may be interested in forming a consortia can download three new resources to help them get started:

LOA/TPAs Must be Up to Date
In order to be considered eligible for funding in FY2019, Letters of Agency (LOA) and Third Party Authorizations (TPA) must be up to date through FY2019, at a minimum. Be especially mindful if you are an HCP using a consultant, a consortium leader, or a consultant filing on behalf of a consortium leader. Before submitting a form, please check to ensure your authorization documents are up to date. FCC Forms 462 and 466 submitted with expired LOAs or TPAs will result in applicants receiving Information Requests.

For more information about submitting LOAs, please see the submission guide

7/2/2019Lifeline Program June Newsletter


National Verifier Fully Launches in March 2019 Launch States

The National Verifier fully launched in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
 
Service providers in these states are now required to use the National Verifier to check the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them into the Lifeline program. Consumers in these states can apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier online consumer portal or by mailing a paper application to the Lifeline Support Center.


National Verifier Soft Launches in 11 Additional States – June 2019 Soft Launch


The National Verifier soft launched in the following states on Tuesday, June 25.

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia


Service providers in the June 2019 soft launch states can initiate eligibility checks using the National Verifier service provider portal or by sending paper forms  and eligibility documentation to the Lifeline Support Center.
 
During the soft launch period, service providers can continue using their legacy eligibility checking procedures if they choose. Training opportunities for this launch can be found on USAC’s website.


June 2019 Enhancements Live in National Verifier on June 25


On Tuesday, June 25, USAC released new enhancements to the National Verifier portal. The June 2019 updates focus on streamlining the application workflow, including address verification.
 
Additional details regarding the National Verifier v7.0 Production Release Notes for the June 2019 enhancements can be found on USAC's website.
 
To learn more about Lifeline and the National Verifier, visit USAC's National Verifier page.


Program Integrity Efforts and Reminders


Though USAC tries to minimize documentation requests for audit, Program Quality Assurance (PQA), and Program Integrity reviews whenever possible, service providers may still receive multiple documentation requests from USAC for the various audit and program integrity reviews. To better understand USAC’s program integrity efforts and the difference between program integrity reviews, beneficiary audits, and PQAs, review USAC’s Program Integrity page.

The best way to prepare for any program integrity request is to ensure that you are following Lifeline’s program document retention requirements. Lifeline service providers are required to keep records of their compliance with all state and FCC rules (47 C.F.R. §§ 54.417, 54.410).

Service providers that do business in states where the National Verifier has not yet launched (that are still handling eligibility determinations) and service providers electing to use their legacy eligibility determination processes in states where the National Verifier has soft launched are responsible for determining consumer eligibility and must have paper or electronic copies of their consumer’s application packet, including:

  • Application forms and proof of eligibility, and
  • Household worksheet, ID, and/or proof of address (if applicable).


Service providers must keep the required documentation for as long as the subscriber receives Lifeline service from that service provider, but for no less than the three full preceding calendar years.

Service providers are responsible for complying with the document retention requirements established in 47 C.F.R. § 54.410.

For more information on documentation requirements, review sections 54.410 and 54.417 of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) here.

Reminder: June NLAD Release

 

Updates to BQP Information

 

As of Thursday, June 13, any changes to Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP) information require a de-enroll and re-enroll. If a Lifeline consumer needs to edit, remove, or add BQP information, they will need to:

  1. Inform their service provider so that their service provider can de-enroll them,
  2. Re-apply with the updated BQP information, and
  3. Inform their service provider once they have successfully re-applied.


Once notified, their service provider can re-enroll them in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). Please note this change applies to all BQP information, regardless of if the consumer applied through the National Verifier or legacy workflow.

Changes to NLAD Address Field


After receiving feedback from service providers, USAC has updated the mailing address field for consumers in NLAD. With this release, service providers can input a general delivery address for a consumer into the mailing address field.  USAC is committed to collecting the best information possible to ensure all consumers receive timely notification of recertification, reverification, and other Lifeline Program processes.

You can review the “Mailing Address” field below.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Reminders


Phase 1 Implementation: Adoption Period


On Tuesday, June 25, USAC launched the Representative Accountability Database (RAD). The first phase of implementation, or the Adoption Period, opens the registration process for existing service provider representatives to start registering for their Representative IDs. In preparation for the Adoption Period, USAC hosted a RAD Registration training during the June monthly webinar. You can review the slide deck on the Lifeline Learn page.


Phase 2 Implementation: Linking Accounts


The next phase of the RAD Adoption Period is expected to begin in late July. At that time, any new account created for accessing the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) or the National Verifier will require a Representative ID. Service providers will also have the opportunity to begin linking a Representative ID to existing accounts. More information on how service providers link Representative IDs to a representative’s NLAD and National Verifier accounts will be included in the July monthly webinar.

Service providers should begin planning to incorporate these changes into their business processes in anticipation of the full launch of RAD in fourth quarter 2019.


NLAD API Specification Changes


Beginning in fourth quarter 2019, transactions submitted to the National Verifier and NLAD will be associated with a Representative ID. The NLAD API Specifications will be updated to account for this change. To receive the revised NLAD API Specification, email LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line: RAD - NLAD API Specs.

Please note that only service providers that use the NLAD API will need the updated NLAD API Specifications.

July Monthly Webinar: The Representative Accountability Database (RAD): Linking Accounts

Join us on Wednesday, July 10, for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss the second phase of the RAD implementation. We will give an overview of the system and discuss the process to link Representative IDs to respective service providers. Once we share our material, we will take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

6/28/2019News Brief Issued


The 6/28/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

6/27/2019Extended FY2019 Filing Window Closes this Sunday


The extended FY2019 filing window period for health care providers (HCPs) in the HCF Program affected by FCC Order 19-45 closes in 3 days on Sunday, June 30! This means that you must submit your funding requests (FCC Form 462) before 11:59 p.m. ET June 30, 2019 to be considered for RHC Program support for FY2019. Any funding requests submitted after this time will not be considered. Please keep in mind that this deadline falls on a weekend.

6/26/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: June 30-July 1


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, July 1 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

6/25/2019RAD Launches Today, Tuesday, June 25


RAD Adoption Period Open Today

Beginning today, Tuesday, June 25, representatives can register for a Representative ID by going to LifelineRAD.org. Representatives can access the RAD website, where they will go to self-register, via USAC’s website.

For more information on the Representative Accountability Database (RAD) registration process:


6/25/2019USAC Seeks Contractor for RHC Business and Operations Assessment


The Universal Service Administrative Company is seeking a contractor to conduct a business process and systems requirements analysis that would ensure that RHC application systems meet the needs of the Rural Health Care business. As a part of this project USAC also expects the Contractor to conduct an operational assessment of the program, and make a recommendation on the potential for optimizing the program activities through alternatives such as outsourcing or out tasking.

Read more about the procurement here.  

6/25/2019National Verifier and NLAD Systems Notification


Connectivity Restored

Connectivity to the National Verifier and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) is restored. We have been monitoring the issue closely and were able to stabilize the systems.

Users should now be able to perform all transactions successfully. If you continue to experience issues, please email NLADsupport@usac.org.

6/24/2019USAC Announces RAD


RAD Adoption Period Opens Tomorrow

The Representative Accountability Database (RAD) will launch tomorrow, Tuesday, June 25. Beginning June 25, the RAD Adoption Period will open, allowing representatives who perform Lifeline enrollments and other related transactions to register for their Representative ID. USAC will send a bulletin tomorrow notifying service providers that the link to the RAD website, where representatives will go to self-register, is live and available.

USAC asks that service providers inform their representatives of this requirement.

Next Steps

The next phase of the RAD Adoption Period is expected to begin in late July. At that time, any new account created for accessing the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) or the National Verifier will require a Representative ID. Carriers will also have the opportunity to begin linking a Representative ID to existing accounts. More information on how service providers link Representative IDs to a representative’s NLAD and National Verifier accounts will be included in the July monthly webinar.

At the same time that the process for linking a Representative ID to accounts becomes available in the NLAD pre-production and production environments, USAC will release changes to pre-production that include requiring a Representative ID for all transactions submitted using the UI or API. More information on this will also be provided during the July monthly webinar.

Service providers should begin planning to incorporate these system changes into their business processes in anticipation of the full launch of RAD in the fourth quarter of 2019.

RAD Overview

RAD is a new registration system that will allow service provider representatives to obtain a unique ID.

Once the next phase of RAD deployment begins in late July, service provider representatives will provide their unique ID to all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETC) that they support. ETCs will then link these unique IDs to appropriate NLAD and National Verifier accounts. USAC will then be able to use this ID to track a representative’s transactions in the NLAD and National Verifier. 

 

  • Transactions will be monitored for potentially fraudulent activity.
  • A unique identifier will give USAC the ability to revoke access to its systems for individual users suspected of fraudulent activity.


The list below outlines who will need to register for a Representative ID:


  • Individuals directly interfacing with potential subscribers to enroll them in Lifeline
  • Immediate supervisors of individuals directly interacting with potential subscribers to complete Lifeline enrollments
  • Individuals that contract directly with ETCs and oversee or manage several teams of people working to complete Lifeline enrollments (Master Agents)
  • Individuals that either assist subscribers with recertification or prepare subscriber information for recertification and submission to the NLAD and National Verifier
  • Customer service representatives that update PII for existing Lifeline subscribers
  • Back office individuals that conduct manual eligibility reviews of subscriber enrollment or recertification information that is initially submitted through an electronic system, e.g., an online portal, ETC billing system

 

RAD Registration Resources


  • Service providers and their representatives can find more information about RAD and how representatives can resolve identity errors on USAC’s website. Please note that the content on USAC’s website for representatives and how they can resolve identity errors is for representatives that do business in the United States. Information for representatives that are employed outside of the United States will be provided shortly.
  • Service providers and their representatives can review June’s monthly webinar on the registration process here.
  • USAC is hosting two office hours to help service providers adjust to the new system on:
          - Monday, July 1 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET (register here)
          - Wednesday, July 17 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET (register here

6/21/2019News Brief Issued


The 6/21/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

6/19/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance: June 21-22


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 21 through 2:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 22 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

6/19/2019Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, June 21

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to the June monthly maintenance starting Friday, June 21 from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. ET.

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

Upcoming National Verifier Production Maintenance, June 24

The National Verifier production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Monday, June 24 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the production environment. The National Verifier and NLAD pre-production environments will also be available for use during this time.

6/18/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance - June 18


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 8:00-11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 18 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

6/18/2019Legacy System Outage


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems are temporarily unavailable. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

6/14/2019News Brief Issued


The 6/14/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

6/13/2019FCC Announces 3rd Quarter 2019 Contribution Factor Increase to 24.4 Percent


The FCC released a Public Notice (DA 19-559 ) announcing that the proposed universal service contribution factor for the third quarter, July - September 2019 will be .244 or 24.4 percent. 

6/13/2019June NLAD Release


Updates to BQP Information

 

Beginning today, Thursday, June 13, any changes to Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP) information will require a de-enroll and re-enroll. 

If a Lifeline consumer needs to edit, remove, or add BQP information, they will need to:

  1. Inform their service provider so that their service provider can de-enroll them,
  2. Re-apply with the updated BQP information, and
  3. Inform their service provider once they have successfully re-applied. 

 

Once notified, their service provider can re-enroll them in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). Please note this change applies to all BQP information, regardless if the consumer applied through the National Verifier or legacy workflow.

 

Changes to NLAD Address Field

 

After receiving feedback from service providers, USAC has updated the mailing address field for consumers in NLAD. With this release, service providers are able to input a general delivery address for a consumer into the mailing address field.  USAC is committed to collecting the best information possible to ensure all consumers receive timely notification of recertification, reverification, and other Lifeline Program processes.

6/12/2019Special Edition News Brief - Applicant and Tribal Training Announcement


A Special Edition issue of the News Brief (6/12/2019) is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

6/10/2019FCC Releases Public Notice DA-19-540


On June 10, 2019, the FCC Released Public Notice DA-19-540, directing USAC to carry-forward unused funds from prior funding years to the extent necessary to cover FY2019 RHC Program demand as of the close of the FY2019 filing window on June 30, 2019. USAC projects that, as of the third quarter of 2019, $83.22M is available in unused funds for future funding years. Read the Public Notice here

6/10/2019RHC Newsletter for June 2019


FCC Releases Order 19-45
On May 20, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released FCC Order 19-45 affecting Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program participants with FY2018 multi-year and upfront payment funding requests. For FY2018, multi-year and upfront payment funding requests exceeded the $150M cap.  In the Order, the Commission suspended its rule allowing for multi-year commitments in the HCF Program for FY2018 and directed USAC to process these requests as single-year funding requests. Without such direction, the multi-year funding requests were facing a significant proration.  The Order also extended the FY2019 filing window deadline to June 30, 2019 for HCF Program applicants that: (1) filed FY2018 multi-year and upfront payment funding requests either individually or as part of a consortium; and (2) did not receive a funding decision on their FY2018 funding request from USAC by May 20, 2019.

Download the FCC Order 19-45 Tip Sheet or read more about the Order here

Coming Soon! RHC Website Updates
Over the next few months, RHC will be refreshing the content on the RHC public website, usac.org/rhc. Our goal is to make information easier to find and understand for all applicants, and changes will include consolidating information and simplifying the content. Don’t worry! We will share more information about any changes before they happen.


Important Reminders

Notice: My Portal No Longer Supported by Internet Explorer
Please be sure to using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to ensure your RHC Program forms and supporting documentation are submitted.

What to do if You Receive an Information Request
USAC cannot complete their review of FCC Forms submitted with incomplete or missing documentation, and RHC reviewers will reach out to all account holders (the primary and all secondary and tertiary account holders associated with that HCP) with a request for additional information (“Information Request”). Information Requests are sent to collect any missing documentation, address deficiencies, or to ask clarifying questions about the FCC Form. If you receive an Information Request, you must respond to it within 14 calendar days. Failure to respond within the 14 calendar day timeframe will result in a denial of funding, so be sure to meet that deadline.
Information Request Tips for the Telecom Program

  • Very important: Applicants can receive Telecom Information Requests through My Portal OR through email
    • For Information Requests inside My Portal, applicant should respond inside My Portal only
    • For email Information Requests, applicant should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request
  • Use Chrome/Firefox Only when using My Portal
  • When uploading a document as a response, the document should be limited to 10MB
  • When uploading a document as a response, the document name should not contain any special characters, only letters and numbers

 
Information Request Tips for the HCF Program

  • Applicants receive HCF Program Information Requests through email and should “Reply All” to respond to an Information Request

FCC Form 460 Best Practice
During the submission of an FCC Form 460 (HCF Eligibility and Registration Form), we recommend that applicants upload any supporting documentation necessary to validate form data to the “Supporting Documentation” section. This includes any documentation that is relevant to the required fields of the FCC Form 460. Doing so creates additional visibility into the HCP and increases the chance of a faster review. A few examples include:

  • Hospital licenses, with the address clearly posted, to verify a non-profit hospital
  • A recent bill or lease, with the address clearly posted, to verify the HCP address provided on the FCC Form 460
  • Public tax documents to verify the Non-Profit Tax ID (EIN)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) accreditation to verify a community health center

Please keep in mind that the FCC Form 460 review can take up to 30 days. You can submit your FCC Form 460 at any time during the funding year.

Filing an Appeal
Any party that wishes to appeal a USAC decision must file an appeal with USAC within 60 days of the date when USAC issued the decision. All appeals must be sent to RHC-Appeals@usac.org.  The following information must be included in the appeal:

  • Applicant or service provider who is filing the appeal (i.e. HCP number, service provider’s 498 ID (SPIN))
  • Contact information of the person who can discuss the appeal with USAC in detail  (include name, address, telephone number, and email address)
  • Documentation of USAC's decision (e.g., copy of USAC's decision letter being appealed)
  • Supporting documentation such as forms and previous correspondence with USAC
  • A precise explanation of the relief sought through the appeal

USAC may reach out for additional information while reviewing your appeal, but failure to provide all of the information above within the 60 days may result in denial of your appeal. Parties seeking a waiver of FCC rules (e.g., waiver of deadlines) should file an appeal directly with the Commission because USAC cannot waive FCC rules.  For more information on filing appeals with USAC or the FCC, please visit the appeals page of the USAC website.

Consortia Resources
HCF Program applicants who may be interested in forming a consortia can download three new resources to help them get started:

Account Holder Guidance
USAC recommends having at least one secondary account holder per HCP. We’ve created guides for primary account holders with instructions for adding additional account holders in My Portal:

LOA/TPAs Must be Up to Date
In order to be considered eligible for funding in FY2019, Letters of Agency (LOA) and Third Party Authorizations (TPA) must be up to date through FY2019, at a minimum. Be especially mindful if you are an HCP using a consultant, a consortium leader, or a consultant filing on behalf of a consortium leader. Before submitting a form, please check to ensure your authorization documents are up to date. FCC Forms 462 and 466 submitted with expired LOAs or TPAs will result in applicants receiving Information Requests.

For more information about submitting LOAs, please see the submission guide

6/7/2019News Brief Issued


The 6/7/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

6/7/2019New My Portal Landing Page


The RHC Program's online application management system My Portal has a new landing page. To access the Telecom portal, click the "Invoice" link. To access the HCF portal, click the "Form 463" link. We appreciate your patience as our IT team works to make improvements to this new landing page.

6/6/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance - June 6


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00-11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 6 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

6/4/2019Reminder: Scheduled System Maintenance, June 6


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) and National Verifier production environments will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Thursday, June 6 from 9 p.m. until midnight ET.

NLAD and the National Verifier pre-production environments will be available for use during this time.

5/31/2019Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Scheduled System Maintenance, June 6

The National Lifeline Accountability Database and National Verifier production environments will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Thursday, June 6 from 9 p.m. until midnight ET.

NLAD and the National Verifier pre-production environments will be available for use during this time.

5/31/2019News Brief Issued


The 5/31/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

5/31/2019FY2019 Filing Window Closes Today!


FY2019 Filing Window Closes Today!
This means that you must submit your funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) before 11:59 p.m. ET May 31, 2019* to be considered for RHC Program support. Any funding requests submitted after this time will not be considered. We highly encourage you to submit your funding requests as soon as possible.


Prepare to submit your FY2019 Funding Request with these resources:

*This does not include the HCPs and FRNs affected by FCC Order 19-45. Read more about the Order here

5/31/2019Lifeline Program Newsletter - May 2019


National Verifier Live in Additional States and Territories

The Lifeline National Verifier fully launched in the following localities on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • District of Columbia
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Service providers in this launch are now required to use the National Verifier to check the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them into the Lifeline program. Consumers in these states and territories can apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier online consumer portal or by mailing a paper application to the Lifeline Support Center.

FCC and USAC Announce the Upcoming National Verifier Full Launch Date for Three Additional States

The National Verifier will fully launch in three additional states on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. As of that date, service providers in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan must use the National Verifier to determine the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them in the program. Service providers will only be able to enroll applicants in National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) if they have an active and approved eligibility decision from the National Verifier.

Consumers in these states who wish to apply for Lifeline through the National Verifier will be able to use the consumer portal at CheckLifeline.org/lifeline or submit a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center starting Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

Service providers in this launch will receive additional communications from USAC with specific information regarding the full launch of the National Verifier.

If you are a service provider in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan and have not received information about the full launch, email us at LifelineProgram@usac.org. 

National Verifier: New Enhancements Coming in June

USAC is excited to introduce new enhancements to the National Verifier. The June 2019 updates focus on streamlining the application workflow, including address verification.

Improvements to Application Process

The National Verifier will now:

  • Allow upload of eligibility documents for applications in Batch States prior to state eligibility response,
  • Specify rejection reasons for applications submitted via the National Verifier portal, and

Complete an automatic pin drop on the AMS mapping tool reflecting the approximate address location as entered by the user.

Upload of Eligibility Documents for Applications in "Pending Batch Decision" Status

Lifeline applications submitted in batch states (NC, TN, MO, and KY) that fail the federal data source check receive a “Pending Batch Decision” status. The applicant then waits 1-3 days to receive an eligibility response from the state.  Under the current workflow, users are able to submit documentation to resolve all errors except for eligibility prior to receiving an eligibility response.

In June 2019 USAC will update the application workflow to allow users to upload eligibility documentation while in the “Pending Batch Decision” status. This will enable users to submit all documentation to resolve all potential errors before receiving an eligibility response from the state. This will ensure a streamlined experience and reduce return visits to service providers to enroll in Lifeline.

Specific Rejection Reasons for Applications

An application submitted in the National Verifier may result in an error that requires additional documentation for the Lifeline Support Center to review.

Service providers and consumers often request clarification around why certain documents are rejected during this manual review.

USAC will now provide specific reasons why a document was rejected in the National Verifier. This update will enable consumers to better understand what is required for submission and qualification.

Automatic Pin Drop on the AMS Map

When a user enters an address in National Verifier, the system will transmit the information to the AMS mapping tool. Once a user reaches the AMS mapping tool screen, they will see a map along with a pin near or on the exact address provided in the application. Users will then need to simply verify that the pin drop is in the correct spot (or move the pin to the correct location) to proceed to the next section of the application.

For users who use a descriptive address, the tool will attempt to locate the exact address and drop the pin there. If the tool is unable to locate the exact address, a pin will drop within an approximate boundary (e.g. zip code) from the provided address.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates

In late June, USAC will begin implementing the Representative Accountability Database (RAD). The registration system will be used to validate the identities of service provider representatives that handle Lifeline program enrollments, recertifications, and other related transactions.

Representatives and service providers will interact with the RAD in the following ways:

  • Representatives will self-register for their Representative ID,
  • Representatives will take their Representative ID to all service providers for which they perform Lifeline transactions so that the ID can be linked to their National Verifier and National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) accounts,
  • USAC will monitor representatives’ transactions for potentially fraudulent activity and lock out representatives when appropriate, and
  • Service providers will regularly confirm that the representatives linked to their accounts should remain linked to their accounts through the RAD Confirmation process.

Representatives that perform any of the following Lifeline transactions will require a Representative ID:

  • Individuals directly interfacing with potential subscribers to enroll them in Lifeline,
  • Immediate supervisors of individuals directly interacting with potential subscribers to complete Lifeline enrollments,
    Individuals that contract directly with ETCs and oversee or manage several teams of people working to complete Lifeline enrollments,
  • Individuals that either assist subscribers with recertification or prepare subscriber information for recertification and submission to the National Verifier or NLAD,
  • Customer service representatives that update PII for existing Lifeline subscribers, and

Back office individuals that conduct manual eligibility reviews of subscriber enrollment or recertification information that is initially submitted through an electronic system (such as an online portal or ETC billing system).

The registration period for service provider representatives will begin in late June. When the registration period begins, all existing representatives will be asked to register for a Representative ID. Service providers will be given time to test linking a Representative’s ID to their respective accounts before RAD is fully implemented. USAC anticipates that RAD will be fully implemented in the fourth quarter of this year.

NLAD API Specification Changes

As mentioned above and during the May Webinar, transactions submitted to the National Verifier and NLAD will be associated with a Representative ID. The NLAD API Specifications will be updated to account for this change. To receive the revised NLAD API Specification, email LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line RAD - NLAD API Specs.

These changes will include the Representative ID as a conditional field for the transaction types listed above. The change will also include a conditional field that can be used to indicate a representative was not involved in the transaction, such as when an application is submitted independently by a consumer through a carrier’s online enrollment system. Service providers will be able to test these changes in the NLAD pre-production environment in early third quarter 2019.

June Monthly Webinar: The Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Registration Process

Join us on Wednesday, June 12 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss the first phase of the Representative Accountability Database (RAD).  We will give an overview of the system, discuss the representative registration process and provide high-level information on the process to link Representative IDs to the respective service providers. Once we share our material, we will take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

Consumer Advocate Training on June 19

USAC is hosting a Consumer Advocate training for advocates in all states and territories on Wednesday, June 19 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. This training will provide a high-level overview of how advocates can educate consumers about the Lifeline program. USAC is committed to helping consumers navigate the new system and this training is meant to help consumer advocates, caseworkers, and others in the consumer support industry serve as a significant resource for consumers during the rollout of the National Verifier.

You can register for the training here. Please share this invitation with your colleagues or other consumer advocates. To be added to the consumer advocate distribution list, where you will receive additional updates for those that work directly with consumers, email LifelineProgram@usac.org. 

5/29/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: June 2-3


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, June 2 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, June 3 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/28/2019Resolved: National Verifier, NLAD, and LCS Systems Notification


Resolved: National Verifier, NLAD, and LCS Intermittent Connectivity Issues

Connectivity to the National Verifier, National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) has been fully restored. USAC has been monitoring the issues closely and was able to stabilize the systems yesterday afternoon and confirm their ongoing stability this morning.

Users should now be able to perform all transactions successfully. If you continue to experience issues, please email NLADsupport@usac.org.

5/24/2019News Brief Issued


The 5/24/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

5/23/2019Special Edition News Brief - Service Provider Training Announcement


A Special Edition issue of the News Brief (5/23/2019) is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

5/23/2019Service Provider Training - Registration Now Open


Registration is now open for 2019 Service Provider Training. The training will take place at USAC in Washington, DC the week of August 5th. You can register here.

NOTE: These training sessions are targeted for service providers. Fall applicant training sessions, which contain material specifically for applicants, will be announced at a later time.

5/20/2019FCC Releases Order 19-45


On May 20, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released Order 19-45, taking steps to fully fund all FY2018 funding requests. Read the Order here. USAC will notify impacted applicants with next steps and guidance within the next few days. 

5/20/2019Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Reminder: NLAD Pre-Production Scheduled System Maintenance, May 21

The NLAD pre-production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Tuesday, May 21 from 10 a.m. until noon ET

The National Verifier pre-production and production environments, as well as the NLAD production environment, will be available for use during this time.

Reminder: National Verifier Scheduled System Maintenance, May 24

The National Verifier will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Friday, May 24 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET. The National Verifier pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

The NLAD legacy workflow will no longer be impacted; however, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s National Verifier mode.

5/17/2019E-File Unavailable due to USAC System Maintenance


USAC will perform monthly system maintenance beginning at 6 p.m. ET on May 17 through 1 p.m. ET on May 18. During the maintenance window, Universal Service Fund contributors will not be able to access the E-File system. We apologize for any inconvenience.  

5/17/2019News Brief Issued


The 5/17/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

5/17/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance: May 17-18


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 17 through 1:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 18 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/17/2019E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: May 17-18


USAC's E-File system will be unavailable for all users from 6:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 17 through 1:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 18 for system maintenance. During this time the E-file login page will be unavailable and users will be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Forms 498 or 499. All online FCC forms for contributors, service providers, and eligible telecommunications carriers will not be accessible. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/15/2019Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, May 17

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to the May monthly maintenance starting Friday, May 17 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, May 24

NLAD and the National Verifier will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Friday, May 24 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET

NLAD and the National Verifier pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

NLAD Pre-Production Scheduled System Maintenance, May 21

The NLAD pre-production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Tuesday, May 21 from 10 a.m. until noon ET
 
The National Verifier pre-production and production environments as well as the NLAD production environment will be available for use during this time.

5/15/2019RHC Newsletter for May 2019


Upcoming Deadline!

FY2019 Filing Window Closes May 31, 2019!
The initial filing window period for FY2019 closes in 29 days! This means that you must submit your funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) before 11:59 p.m. ET May 31, 2019 to be considered for RHC Program support. Any funding requests submitted after this time will not be considered. We highly encourage you to submit your funding requests as soon as possible.


Prepare to submit your FY2019 Funding Request with these resources:


Latest News

Coming Soon! RHC Website Updates
Over the next few months, RHC will be refreshing the content on the RHC public website, usac.org/rhc. Our goal is to make information easier to find and understand for all applicants, and changes will include consolidating information and simplifying the content. Don’t worry! We will share more information about any changes before they happen.


FY2019 Information

FY2018 FCC Form 461 Rollover for FY2019 for HCF Program Applicants
This year’s FCC Form 461 rollover functionality is a courtesy extended to HCF Program applicants who completed the Request for Services (FCC Form 461) process in FY2018 and would like to use their approved FY2018 FCC Form 461 for FY2019. Those requesting the FY2018 FCC Form 461 rollover functionality must meet the following requirements:

  • The FCC Form 461 must have been submitted for FY2018, and previously reviewed and approved by RHC for FY2018.
  • The FY2018 FCC Form 461 and/or competitive bidding process must have complied with the FCC’s competitive bidding rules.

Applicants requesting the FY2018 FCC Form 461 rollover understand that their FY2019 FCC Form 462 may be denied if the FY2018 FCC Form 461 and/or competitive bidding process is found to have been in violation of the competitive bidding rules.
 
The rollover process will only be applied to the FCC Form 461, not the FCC Form 462. Applicants must still submit a FY2019 FCC Form 462 if they wish to apply for HCF Program funding for FY2019.

How to submit your FCC Form 461 rollover request:

  • Send email to: RHC-Assist@usac.org  
  • Subject line of email: FCC Form 461 Rollover Request App #
  • Include within the email body: HCP #, FCC Form 461 application #
  • Once emailed, the rollover request may take 5-8 business days to review and process.
  • If approved, your request will be confirmed via email from an RHC staff member.



FY2018 Information


RHC began issuing decisions on FY2018 funding requests in November of 2018, and will continue to do so on a rolling basis. RHC will communicate any updates via the email addresses the applicant has submitted in My Portal. Due to demand for RHC Program funds, there will not be a second filing window period for FY2018. The RHC Program will not accept additional funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) for FY2018. All qualifying single year funding requests with no upfront costs will be fully funded for FY2018 with no proration.


Important Reminders

FCC Form 460 Best Practice
During the submission of an FCC Form 460 (HCF Eligibility and Registration Form), we recommend that applicants upload any supporting documentation necessary to validate form data to the “Supporting Documentation” section. This includes any documentation that is relevant to the required fields of the FCC Form 460. Doing so creates additional visibility into the HCP and increases the chance of a faster review. A few examples include:

  • Hospital licenses, with the address clearly posted, to verify a non-profit hospital
  • A recent bill or lease, with the address clearly posted, to verify the HCP address provided on the FCC Form 460
  • Public tax documents to verify the Non-Profit Tax ID (EIN)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) accreditation to verify a community health center

Please keep in mind that the FCC Form 460 review can take up to 30 days. You can submit your FCC Form 460 at any time during the funding year.

Filing an Appeal
Any party that wishes to appeal a USAC decision must file an appeal with USAC within 60 days of the date when USAC issued the decision. All appeals must be sent to RHC-Appeals@usac.org.  The following information must be included in the appeal:

  • Applicant or service provider who is filing the appeal (i.e. HCP number, service provider’s 498 ID (SPIN))
  • Contact information of the person who can discuss the appeal with USAC in detail  (include name, address, telephone number, and email address)
  • Documentation of USAC's decision (e.g., copy of USAC's decision letter being appealed)
  • Supporting documentation such as forms and previous correspondence with USAC
  • A precise explanation of the relief sought through the appeal

USAC may reach out for additional information while reviewing your appeal, but failure to provide all of the information above within the 60 days may result in denial of your appeal. Parties seeking a waiver of FCC rules (e.g., waiver of deadlines) should file an appeal directly with the Commission because USAC cannot waive FCC rules.  For more information on filing appeals with USAC or the FCC, please visit the appeals page of the USAC website.

Consortia Resources
HCF Program applicants who may be interested in forming a consortia can download three new resources to help them get started:

Account Holder Guidance
USAC recommends having at least one secondary account holder per HCP. We’ve created guides for primary account holders with instructions for adding additional account holders in My Portal:

What to do if You Receive an Information Request
USAC cannot complete their review of FCC Forms submitted with incomplete or missing documentation, and RHC reviewers will reach out to all account holders (the primary and all secondary and tertiary account holders associated with that HCP) with a request for additional information (“Information Request”). Information Requests are sent to collect any missing documentation, address deficiencies, or to ask clarifying questions about the FCC Form. If you receive an Information Request, you must respond to it within 14 calendar days. Failure to respond within the 14 calendar day timeframe will result in a denial of funding, so be sure to meet that deadline.

LOA/TPAs Must be Up to Date
In order to be considered eligible for funding in FY2019, Letters of Agency (LOA) and Third Party Authorizations (TPA) must be up to date through FY2019, at a minimum. Be especially mindful if you are an HCP using a consultant, a consortium leader, or a consultant filing on behalf of a consortium leader. Before submitting a form, please check to ensure your authorization documents are up to date. FCC Forms 462 and 466 submitted with expired LOAs or TPAs will result in applicants receiving Information Requests.

For more information about submitting LOAs, please see the submission guide

5/14/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: May 17-18


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Friday, May 17 at 8:00 p.m EDT through Saturday, May 18 at 10:00 a.m. EDT for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/13/2019USAC Call Centers Capacity Restored


Capacity has been restored for the call centers for the High Cost, Rural Healthcare, and Schools and Libraries programs and the Lifeline Support Center.

5/13/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) *TRAINING SITE* Outage Due to System Maintenance: May 17


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) *TRAINING SITE* will be unavailable on Friday, May 17 from 5:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m. EDT for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use the training site. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/10/2019News Brief Issued


The 5/10/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

5/10/2019USAC Announce National Verifier Full (Hard) Launch for March 2019 Launch


Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan Full (Hard) Launch

Today the FCC and USAC announced that the Lifeline National Verifier will fully launch in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

At that time, service providers in the March 2019 launch must check all Lifeline applicants’ eligibility through the National Verifier.

At the full (hard) launch, consumers who wish to apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier can use the consumer portal or submit a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center.

5/7/2019February 2019 Launch Fully Launches in the National Verifier


February 2019 Launch Hard Launch

Today, Tuesday, May 7, the Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) fully launched in the following localities: 

  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • District of Columbia
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
Service providers in this launch must use the National Verifier to check the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them in the program.

Consumers in this launch can apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier online consumer portal at CheckLifeline.org/lifeline or by mailing a paper application to the Lifeline Support Center.


For more information specific to the February 2019 launch, visit USAC’s website.

5/6/2019CAF Phase II Auction Page Now Available


This new page provides a variety of information about the CAF II Auction, including how to draft an acceptable Letter of Credit (LOC), and common errors and how to avoid them.

5/3/2019News Brief Issued


The 5/3/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

5/1/2019Lifeline Program Newsletter - April 2019


FCC and USAC Announce National Verifier Full (Hard) Launch Date for the February 2019 Launch States and Territories

The National Verifier will fully launch in the following localities on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.


  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • District of Columbia
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands


As of that date, service providers in the February 2019 launch must use the National Verifier to determine the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them in the program. Service providers will be only able to enroll applicants in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) if they have an active and approved eligibility decision from the National Verifier.

Consumers in these localities who wish to apply for Lifeline through the National Verifier will be able to use the consumer portal at CheckLifeline.org/lifeline or submit a paper application by mail directly to the Lifeline Support Center starting Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

Service providers in localities that are part of this launch will receive additional communications from USAC with specific information regarding the full (hard) launch of the National Verifier.

If you are a service provider in one of the states, territories, or district that are part of this launch and have not received information about the full (hard) launch, email us at LifelineProgram@usac.org.

National Verifier April 2019 Enhancements are live in the Production Environment

On Monday, April 15, USAC released new enhancements to the National Verifier portal for consumers in CO, MS, MT, NM, UT, and WY. These enhancements allow consumers in these states, which were soft launched in June 2018 (Launch 1), the ability to start using the recertification portal to complete their annual recertification.
 
Recertification is an annual requirement for Lifeline subscribers and is separate from reverification (one-time National Verifier process). This process is conducted to ensure that active Lifeline subscribers are still eligible for the Lifeline benefit.

Service Provider Portal 

Service providers will be prevented from submitting an application for a consumer who has yet to complete recertification. The National Verifier portal will instead provide the options available for a subscriber to complete recertification. These options include recertifying online via the National Verifier consumer portal, by phone, or by mailing in a recertification form to the Lifeline Support Center. Once recertification is complete for the subscriber the regular features on the portal will be available.

Consumer Portal

If a subscriber logs into the National Verifier consumer portal while in a 60-day self-certification window, the subscriber will be automatically directed to complete and submit their recertification.

Service Provider Portal Sign In

USAC has received calls from service providers who are unsure of where they log in. As a reminder, service providers can access the National Verifier service provider portal by visiting CheckLifeline.org/lifeline. From this page, service providers select “Sign in as a Service Provider” in the middle of the page.

The “Sign In” button on the top right of the screen is for the consumer portal. Service providers are unable to access to the National Verifier service provider portal by clicking there. 

Now, service providers can also go directly to the National Verifier service provider portal login page by visiting https://www.checklifeline.org/lifeline?id=nv_sp_bpo_login. From here, service providers in National Verifier soft or hard (full) launch states can access the portal.

For more information on the National Verifier web portal and how to use it, visit the National Verifier How to Use it web page.

To reference the National Verifier v6.0 Production Release Notes, please visit USAC’s website.

Webinar on May 8: Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Overview

Join us on Wednesday, May 8 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. The topic is an introduction to the Representative Accountability Database (RAD) where we will give an introduction to the new system, provide a high-level overview, and take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories.

You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

5/1/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: May 5-6


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, May 6 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

5/1/2019Deadline Approaching! FY2019 Filing Window Closes on May 31!


The initial filing window period for FY2019 closes in 29 days! This means that you must submit your funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) before 11:59 p.m. ET May 31, 2019 to be considered for RHC Program support. Any funding requests submitted after this time will not be considered. We highly encourage you to submit your funding requests as soon as possible. Prepare to submit your

FY2019 Funding Request with these resources:

  • January 2019 Funding Request Best Practices Webinar and slides
  • Funding Request Summary
  • FY2019 Recommended Submission Dates
  •  Information for FY2018 and FY2019 Applicants
  • Urban and Rural Rate Guide
  • 4/30/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance - May 1


    The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00-11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 1 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

     

    NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

    4/27/2019Special Edition News Brief - FY2019 Wave 1 Issued


    The 4/27/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    4/26/2019News Brief Issued


    The 4/26/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    4/24/2019Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, April 26


    The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to the April monthly maintenance starting Friday, April 26 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

    NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

    4/24/2019Webinar: FCC Form 481 Updates on May 7


    Please join us on May 7 at 2 PM ET for a webinar about the program year 2020 updates to the FCC Form 481, the Carrier Annual Reporting Data Collection Form. The webinar will focus on relevant changes to the FCC Form 481 for program year 2020 (due July 1, 2019).

    4/23/2019USAC Releases CAF Map Version 2.0


    USAC has released version 2.0 of the CAF Map, an interactive online map that shows the impact of the Connect America Fund (CAF) program on broadband expansion across rural America.    

    First launched in late 2018, the Connect America Fund Broadband Map – or CAF Map – displays the locations where carriers that receive CAF support have built out mass-market, high-speed Internet service. Version 2.0 of the map contains updated information reflecting broadband deployment completed in 2018. It also contains data from one additional fund – Rural Broadband Experiments (RBE) – bringing the total number of funds in the map to five.    

    The CAF Map displays the geographic areas eligible for CAF support, as well as the specific fixed locations where carriers participating in the program have reported broadband availability. Among other details, the data in the map includes address, latitude and longitude coordinates, carrier name, deployment year and maximum speeds available.    

    The information in the map comes from the carriers, which file and certify CAF-funded broadband deployment data annually with USAC’s High Cost Universal Broadband (HUBB) portal. The grace period for the most recent HUBB filing window closed on March 6, 2019. The CAF Map pulls its data directly from the HUBB.      

    A subset of this data has been subject to USAC verification review. USAC independently verifies deployment to a sample of locations reported to the HUBB each year to monitor carrier compliance with CAF build-out obligations.      

    Version 2.0 of the map reflects broadband deployment as of Dec. 31, 2018 - as certified in the HUBB as of March 6, 2019 - by carriers participating in the following five Connect America Fund programs:    

    • Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF Phase II)    
    • Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM)          
    • Connect America Fund-Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS)    
    • Alaska Plan      
    • Rural Broadband Experiments (RBE)          

    USAC will update the CAF Map periodically with additional broadband deployment data filed by carriers participating in these five CAF funds, and as more CAF funds begin reporting in the HUBB. Map data is also subject to change as carriers upgrade network speeds and correct inaccuracies. In addition, data in the map may change as USAC independently verifies deployment to a sample of locations certified by carriers in the HUBB each year.

       

    4/22/2019Second Quarter Spotlight Newsletter is now available


    Click here to read the 2Q2019 498/499 Spotlight.

    4/19/2019News Brief Issued


    The 4/19/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    4/12/2019News Brief Issued


    The 4/12/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    4/12/2019Reminder: Scheduled National Verifier Maintenance, April 15


    The National Verifier production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Monday, April 15 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s National Verifier mode.

    The National Verifier pre-production environment will no longer be impacted by this maintenance and will be available during this time. NLAD users will also still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the production environment.

    4/12/2019SL News Brief


    Last week, USAC transitioned to a new email platform and email recipients of the SL News Brief may have noticed that links in editions issued before April 5, 2019 no longer work. These editions are still accessible with active links in the SL News Brief archive.

     

    How to search the archive

    Each newsletter published for the past two years is saved in the archive by topic(s) and by the date the newsletter was published. To view the newsletter in the archive,

    1. Go to the SL News Brief archive.
    2. Select the tab for Topic or Date.
    3. Click the links provided to open a copy of the SL News Brief. The links are labeled by the date the newsletter was published.

     

    If you are searching for a news brief that is not available in the archive, call our Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100 or submit a customer service case in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). To create a customer service case:

    1. Log in to EPC.
    2. Select the Contact Us link from the upper right menu on your landing page.

    4/5/2019News Brief Issued


    The 4/5/2019 issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    4/5/2019Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


    Scheduled Lifeline Claims System Maintenance, April 9

    The Lifeline Claims System (LCS) production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Tuesday, April 9 at 9 p.m. ET.

    The outage is expectated to last one hour. The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) pre-production and production environments, as well as the LCS pre-production environment, will be available for using during this time.

    Scheduled National Verifier Maintenance, April 15

    The National Verifier pre-production and production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Monday, April 15 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s National Verifier mode.

    During this time, NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the production environment.

    4/5/2019USAC Announces National Verifier Full (Hard) Launch for February 2019 Launch


    Today, the FCC and USAC announced that the Lifeline National Verifier will fully launch in the following localities on Tuesday, May 7, 2019:

    • Alaska
    • American Samoa
    • District of Columbia
    • Delaware
    • Maine
    • Northern Mariana Islands
    • Rhode Island
    • U.S. Virgin Islands 


    At that time, service providers in the February 2019 launch must check all Lifeline applicants’ eligibility through the National Verifier.

    At the full (hard) launch, consumers who wish to apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier can use the consumer portal or submit a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center. USAC will share more information with service providers in the February 2019 Launch shortly. 

    4/4/2019RHC Newsletter for April 2019


    FY2019 Funding Cap is $593.7M
    On Friday, March 8, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the FY2019 funding cap for the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program is $593,782,000. This new cap represents a 2.2% inflation-adjusted increase in the $581,000,000 cap from FY2018. Read Public Notice DA 17-190 here.


    My Portal Update Impacting Internet Explorer 10
    Starting April 30, 2019, My Portal will no longer be supported in Internet Explorer 10 (IE10), and you will be unable to access My Portal with this browser. Please upgrade your browser to one of these supported browsers:

    • Microsoft Internet Explorer 11
    • Microsoft Edge 14 and later
    • Firefox 46 and later
    • Chrome 51 and later
    • Safari 10 and later

    If you are having trouble upgrading your browser, please check with your company’s IT/Help Desk team or IT support group for assistance. Your company’s information security policies may require the upgrade to be performed by your company’s IT/Help Desk team.

    Coming Soon! RHC Website Updates
    Over the next few months, RHC will be refreshing the content on our public website, usac.org/rhc. Our goal is to make information easier to find and understand for all of our applicants, and changes will include consolidating information and simplifying the content. Don’t worry! We will share more information about any changes before they happen.

    FY2019 Information

     

    FY2019Filing Window Closes May 31, 2019!
    The initial filing window period for FY2019 is February 1 – May 31, 2019. This means that you must submit your funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) before 11:59 p.m. ET May 31, 2019 for consideration. Any funding requests submitted after this time will not be considered. We highly encourage you to submit your funding requests as soon as possible.

    Prepare to submit your FY2019 Funding Request with these resources:


    Submit FY2019 Request for Services Forms Now!

    Applicants applying for funding for FY2019 who are going through the competitive bidding process can submit their FCC Form 461 (HCF Program) and FCC Form 465 (Telecom Program) now!

    Prepare to submit your forms with these resources:


    FCC Form 461 Rollover for FY2019

    This year’s rollover functionality is a courtesy extended to HCF applicants who completed the Request for Services or FCC Form 461 process in FY2018 and would like to use the FY2018 approved FCC Form 461 in FY2019. Those requesting the FY2018 FCC Form 461 rollover functionality must meet the following requirements:

    • The FCC Form 461 must have been submitted for FY2018, and previously reviewed and approved by RHC in FY2018.
    • The FY2018 FCC Form 461 and/or competitive bidding process must have complied with the FCC’s competitive bidding rules.

      Applicants requesting the FCC Form 461 rollover understand that their FY2019 FCC Form 462 may be denied if the FY2018 FCC Form 461 and/or competitive bidding process is found to have been in violation of the competitive bidding rules.
       
      The rollover process will only be applied to the FCC Form 461, not the FCC Form 462. Applicants must still submit a FY2019 FCC Form 462 if they wish to apply for HCF Program funding in FY2019.


    How to submit your FCC Form 461 rollover request:

    • Send email to: RHC-Assist@usac.org  
    • Subject line of email: FCC Form 461 Rollover Request App #
    • Include within the email body: HCP #, FCC Form 461 application #
    • Once emailed, the rollover request may take 5-8 business days to review and process.
    • If approved, your request will be confirmed via email from an RHC staff member.

    Request for Proposal Review
    When an RFP accompanies an FCC Form 461 submission, USAC will review the RFP to identify discrepancies and areas of potential non-compliance with competitive bidding requirements and provide applicants with recommendations on how to address areas of concern. The review conducted by USAC does not guarantee that the RFP is fully compliant. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure that its request for services and any accompanying documentation comply with all RHC Program rules.

    Applicants may bypass this review by emailing RHC-Assist@usac.org at the time of FCC Form 461 submission, including the HCP and application number in the subject line and body of the email.
     

    FY2018 Information

    Update on FY2018
    RHC has begun issuing decisions on FY2018 funding requests, and will continue to do so on a rolling basis. RHC will communicate any updates via the email addresses the applicant has submitted in My Portal. Due to demand for RHC Program funds, there will not be a second filing window period for FY2018. The RHC Program will not accept additional funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) for FY2018. All qualifying single year funding requests with no upfront costs will be fully funded for FY2018 with no proration.
     

    Important Reminders

     

    Filing an Appeal
    Any party that wishes to appeal a USAC decision must file an appeal with USAC within 60 days of the date when USAC issued the decision. All appeals must be sent to RHC-Appeals@usac.org.  The following information must be included in the appeal:

    • Applicant or service provider who is filing the appeal (i.e. HCP number, service provider’s 498 ID (SPIN))
    • Contact information of the person who can discuss the appeal with USAC in detail  (include name, address, telephone number, and email address)
    • Documentation of USAC's decision (e.g., copy of USAC's decision letter being appealed)
    • Supporting documentation such as forms and previous correspondence with USAC
    • A precise explanation of the relief sought through the appeal

    USAC may reach out for additional information while reviewing your appeal, but failure to provide all of the information above within the 60 days may result in denial of your appeal. For more information on filing appeals with USAC or the FCC, please visit the appeals page of the USAC website.

    Consortia Resources
    HCF Program applicants who may be interested in forming a consortia can download three new resources to help them get started:

    Account Holder Guidance
    USAC recommends having at least one secondary account holder per HCP. We’ve created guides for primary account holders with instructions for adding additional account holders in My Portal:

    What to Do if You Receive an Information Request
    FCC Forms submitted with incomplete or missing documentation will not be reviewed, and RHC reviewers will reach out to all account holders (the primary and all secondary and tertiary account holders associated with that HCP) with a request for additional information (“Information Request”). Information Requests are sent to collect any missing documentation, address deficiencies, or to ask clarifying questions about the FCC Form. If you receive an Information Request, you must respond to it within 14 calendar days. Once you respond, the RHC reviewers will work with you, to the extent they can, to ensure that they have all the necessary documentation to complete their review. Failure to respond within the 14 calendar day timeframe will result in an automatic denial, so be sure to meet that deadline.

    LOA/TPAs Must Be Up to Date
    In order to be considered eligible for funding in FY2019, Letters of Agency (LOA) and Third Party Authorizations (TPA) must be up to date through FY2019, at a minimum. Be especially mindful if you are an HCP using a consultant, a consortium leader, or a consultant filing on behalf of a consortium leader. Before submitting a form, please check to ensure your authorization documents are up to date. FCC Forms 462 and 466 submitted with expired LOAs or TPAs will result in applicants receiving Information Requests.

    For more information about submitting LOAs, please see the submission guide 

    4/3/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: April 7-8


    The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, April 7 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, April 8 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

    4/2/2019Schools and Libraries FY2019 Demand Estimate


    USAC's estimate of demand for Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism discounts for Funding Year (FY) 2019 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020) is $2.896 billion, of which $1.91 billion is for Category 1 services and $985 million is for Category 2 services. This estimate is based on total funds requested in FCC Form 471 applications received on or before March 27, 2019, the close of the FY2019 FCC Form 471 filing window.

    3/29/2019News Brief Issued


    The 3/29/2019 issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    3/27/2019My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance Wednesday, April 3


    Rural Health Care's My Portal will be unavailable from 7:00 - 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday April 3, 2019 due to system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. We apologize for any inconvenience.

    3/27/2019Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, March 29


    The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to the March monthly maintenance starting Friday, March 29 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

    NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

    3/26/2019CSB Call Center Phone Line Outage


    The Client Service Bureau (CSB) cannot be reached by telephone at the moment. We are actively working on this issue and will provide an update when we get more information. You can still submit a customer service case in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC), as CSB is working cases as they come in. To submit a customer service case in EPC, click the Contact Us link from the upper right menu on your landing page. We apologize for any inconvenience.

    3/22/2019News Brief Issued


    The 3/22/2019 issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

    3/20/2019Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, March 22 and 29


    Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, March 22
     
    The National Verifier pre-production and production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting Friday, March 22 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET. Additionally, National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s National Verifier mode.

    During this time, NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the production environment.

    Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, March 29

    The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to the March monthly maintenance starting Friday, March 29 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

    NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

    3/20/2019Responding to FRN Balance Verifications


    Each year, USAC undergoes an audit – called an agreed-upon-procedures (AUP) engagement – to examine its operations. As part of this process, the firm performing the audit emails a number of balance verifications ("confirmations") to applicants and service providers to verify that the balances reported by USAC on specific Funding Request Numbers (FRNs) match the balances in the records of the applicants and service providers. Each confirmation features the balance reported by USAC on a specific FRN as of October 31, 2018. 

     

    The confirmations are being sent from confirmations@pwc.com. Please check your email and respond promptly if you receive a confirmation.

     

    Applicants and service providers should review their records and respond by either:

    • Agreeing with the balance featured on the confirmation or
    • If it is different, noting the balance as of October 31, 2018 on their records and explaining how they determined that balance.

    3/20/2019Lifeline Program Newsletter - March 2019


    The March 2019 issue of Lifeline Program News is now available. Sign up to receive the newsletter by email in the Subscription Center

    March headlines:

    • Coming Soon: Representative Accountability Database (RAD)
    • National Verifier: March Launches
    • National Verifier March 2019 Enhancements are live in the Production Environment
    • Submitting Lifeline Reimbursement Claims in LCS Outside Administrative Window
    • National Verifier Outreach Lists - Sign up for Future Launch Information
    • Webinar on April 10: Overview of the Lifeline Claims System (LCS)

    3/20/2019CSB Hours During the Last Week of the Filing Window


    While we encourage applicants to complete and certify their FCC Form 471 early, we realize that last-minute questions can arise. We are publishing the extra hours the Client Service Bureau (CSB) will be open during the last week of the window to allow applicants to take advantage of the opportunity to get answers to those last-minute questions.

     

    You can contact CSB at (888) 203-8100. CSB's regular hours are 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to those times, CSB will be open:

    Date CSB Open CSB Close
    Saturday, March 23 9:00 AM EDT   5:00 PM EDT
    Sunday, March 24 9:00 AM EDT   5:00 PM EDT
    Monday, March 25 8:00 AM EDT 10:00 PM EDT
    Tuesday, March 26 8:00 AM EDT 10:00 PM EDT
    Wednesday, March 27 8:00 AM EDT 12:30 AM EDT (Thursday, March 28)

     

    Generally, CSB has the highest call volumes during noon to 4:00 p.m. EDT. If an agent is not able to answer when you call, please open a customer service case in EPC and we will respond as quickly as possible. To open a customer service case in EPC, click the Contact Us link from the upper right menu on your landing page.

    12/14/2018498 ID Status Tool - ISSUE RESOLVED


    The 498 Status Tool is now operational.

    Visit this webpage to use the 498 Status Tool.