High Cost

Trainings & Outreach

HC Reporter - April 2015

April 2015

In this issue...

Program Happenings   |   At the FCC   |   In the News   

FCC Forms 481 and 690 Now Available for July 1, 2015 Filing

USAC is pleased to announce that eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) can now log in to E-File and access the FCC Forms 481 and 690. The FCC Form 481 is required for all ETCs participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs. The FCC Form 690 is required for all ETCs receiving support from the Mobility Fund. Both forms are due July 1, 2015. The necessary upload templates are on the Forms page. Additional resources will be available in the coming weeks.

Webinars about FCC Forms 481 and 690 

This year, USAC will hold training webinars for both FCC Forms 481 and 690 to help filers better navigate the filing process and most accurately fill out their forms. The FCC Form 690 webinar will be held on April 23, 2015, and the FCC Form 481 webinar will be held on April 29, 2015. Invitations with specific times, agenda details, and sign up information for each webinar were sent this week.

Connect America Fund Challenge Process Order Released 

In an Order (DA 15-383) released on March 30, 2015, the FCC concluded the Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II Challenge Process and provided the final determination regarding all challenged census blocks. They announced the result of their review of the challenges and replies, and provided an accompanying listing of those census blocks that will be treated as served and those that will be treated as unserved for purposes of calculating the Phase II offer of model-based support to price cap carriers. A list showing the treatment of individual census blocks can be found on the FCC's website.

Carriers receiving Mobility Phase 1 support who have reached the milestone(s) necessary to be eligible for subsequent rounds of support must complete FCC Form 690 to receive Payment 2 or 3.  


Tariff Review Plans Due June 16, 2015

Carriers receiving CAF ICC support must submit their Tariff Review Plan data by June 16, 2015 as announced in A1.


The High Cost Program team is here to support you! Visit the Contact Us page and let us know how we can help.

Introducing Industry News!

The High Cost Program is excited to announce the start of industry news updates in the Latest News section of our website. Now you can learn about new orders, petitions, requirements and other industry news all in one place.


Continue to follow the HC Reporter where we will highlight key industry news items in the "At the FCC" section and the "In the News" section.

FCC Releases FY2014 Annual Performance Report

The FCC issued its FY2014 Annual Performance Report on February 23, 2015, which summarizes the FCC's progress in fulfilling its strategic goals and meeting its performance commitments as expressed in its FY2014 Annual Performance Plan. The FCC's strategic goals include maximizing Americans' access to and the adoption of affordable fixed and mobile broadband, empowering consumers by ensuring that they have the tools and information they need to make informed choices and protecting consumers from harm in the communications market, and preserving the free and open Internet as a platform for economic growth, innovation, job creation, and global competitiveness.

FCC Denies Petitions to Waive Audited Financial Statements Requirement for Rural Broadband Experiments

The FCC issued an Order (DA 15-283) on March 3, 2015, denying petitions filed by LocalTel Communications, San Joaquin Broadband, Tejas Wireless, and Texhoma Fiber, among others, for a waiver of the audited financial statements requirement to remain under consideration as a next-in-line bidder for rural broadband experiment support. The FCC said these entities are removed from further consideration for rural broadband experiment support, and they also removed Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico and BVU Authority from further consideration for failing to submit network diagrams certified by a professional engineer by the required deadline.

Petitions for Waiver of ETC Designation Requirement for Rural Broadband Experiments Filed

Petitions for waiver were filed on March 5, 2015, of the March 5, 2015 deadline to submit appropriate documentation of ETC designation for rural broadband experiment support by Wichita Online, Skybeam, San Joaquin Broadband, and Northeast Rural Services

NRECA Supports CFC Request for Designation as Eligible Financial Services Provider

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) filed a letter on February 12, 2015, expressing its support for the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation's (CFC) Petition for Waiver of the bank eligibility requirements in the July 14, 2014, Order â€‹for rural broadband experiment projects. NRECA said designating CFC as an eligible provider of financial services would increase the options available to its members and encourage greater participation in FCC programs, which it stressed is all the more important as its members serve the most rural and impoverished areas of the United States.

FCC Clarifies ICC Transition Rules for Rate-of-Return LECs

The FCC issued an Order (DA 15-249) on February 24, 2015, to clarify certain rules relating to implementation of the Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) transition for rate-of-return local exchange carriers (LECs) adopted in the USF/ICC Transformation Order. The FCC clarified that a rate-of-return carrier that received too much eligible recovery in 2012-13 because of an under projection of demand for that tariff period, and does not have sufficient eligible recovery in 2014-15 to fully offset the 2012-13 amount of over-recovery, must refund the amount that is not offset to USAC to avoid duplicative recovery. The FCC also clarified a rate-of-return carrier that received too little eligible recovery in 2012-13 because of an over projection of demand for that tariff period may seek recovery for any amounts it was not able to recover through its 2014-15 eligible recovery from USAC. 

ITTA, TDS, et al. Discuss Voluntary Alternative Regulation Plan for Rate-of-Return Carriers

ITTA, TDS Telecom, Hargray Communications, Comporium, Home Telecom, and the Rural Broadband Alliance met with FCC staff on March 3, 2015, to discuss a voluntary alternative Connect America Fund  support and regulation plan for rate-of-return companies. They said the basic principles of the approach include use of a forward-looking model-based universal service fund support mechanism and recovery of past investment. They discussed the process included in the plan for determining where unsubsidized competition exists, the length of time the alternative regulation plan would be available for rate-of-return carriers to choose to participate, and the appropriate transition mechanism and timeframe for the shift from legacy support to model-based support.

Chairman Wheeler Responds to Congress on Rural Broadband Experiments

Chairman Wheeler sent letters (DOC 332051) to Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and Steve Pearce (R-NM), and Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM) on January 29, 2015, in response to their letter (DOC 332051-2) supporting the rural broadband experiment application submitted by the High Plains Regional Education Cooperative and Terastream Broadband. Chairman Wheeler said that in December 2014 the FCC announced the provisionally selected bidders, and said Terastream's submission was one of the provisionally selected bidders under category one, as an entity seeking support to build networks capable of delivering 100 Mbps downstream and 25 Mbps upstream.

FCC Releases Alternative Connect America Fund Cost Model Version 1.0.1

On March 6, 2015, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 15-294) with an alternative Connect America Fund cost model and illustrative results for potential use by rate-of-return carriers that voluntarily elect to transition to model-based support. This alternative version incorporates changes to broadband coverage and releases results illustrating how different assumptions used in calculating support impact the potential support calculated for a particular study area. The FCC said the model results illustrate seven different scenarios, and noted that under all seven scenarios, more than half of the rate-of-return study areas in the country would receive more support if they elected voluntarily to receive model-based support than they do today under the legacy support mechanisms.



On March 16, 2015, the FCC released a revised version of the above notice that reflects updated 2014 High Cost Program support amounts, showing actual claims for the full calendar year. The new report shows the same seven scenarios and merely is revised to reflect updated 2014 support amounts. The illustrative results under all seven scenarios are unchanged.

FCC Announces Additional Provisionally Selected Bidders for Rural Broadband Experiments

The FCC issued a Public Notice (DA 15-288) on March 4, 2015, announcing additional bidders have been provisionally selected for rural broadband experiment funding in Category One, subject to the post-selection review process. The FCC provided summary information concerning these new provisionally selected bidders, indicating that the twelve project bids total $27,632,075.71. The FCC said in the near future it will identify all of the specific census blocks that have been provisionally selected for rural broadband experiment funding that will be removed from the offer of model-based support to price cap carriers. These bidders must comply with the letter of credit requirement by May 4, 2015, and the ETC designation requirement by June 2, 2015.



The FCC issued an Erratum on March 11, 2015, to the above notice to amend the Attachment with this notice to as follows: in the table, fourth column third row, replace $163,460.79 with $875,000.00 and in the last row, replace $26,920,536.50 with $27,632,075.71. 

FCC Authorizes Tribal Mobility Fund Phase I Support 

The FCC issued a Public Notice (DA 15-318) on March 13, 2015, authorizing Tribal Mobility Fund Phase I support for the remaining 51 winning bids. The FCC said USAC is authorized to disburse from the universal service fund the amounts identified in Attachment A.

Introducing Industry News!

The High Cost Program is excited to announce the start of industry news updates in the Latest News section of our website. Now you can learn about new orders, petitions, requirements and other industry news all in one place.


Continue to follow the HC Reporter where we will highlight key industry news items in the "At the FCC" section and the "In the News" section.

Iowa Telecommunication Companies Discuss Broadband Accessibility

Reid Chandler reports on WHOtv.com that this week in Des Moines, the Iowa Communications Alliance is bringing together its 130 rural telecommunication companies to discuss the challenge of Governor Terry Branstad's "Connect Every Acre" initiative which seeks to bring high-speed internet to the most rural parts of Iowa.

House FCC Reauthorization Bill Would Cap Universal Service Fund

On March 17, 2015, John Eggerton reported in Broadcasting & Cable that House Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden released a draft of legislation that would include capping the universal service fund, capping the FCC's appropriation for the next four years, and creating an independent inspector general position.

FCC Forbears "For Now" from Requiring Universal Service Fund Contribution from Broadband Providers

In JD Supra Business Advisor, on March 18, 2015, Danielle Frappier and Christopher Savage report on the FCC's decision to forbear broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS), recently reclassified as a telecommunications service, from the portion of Section 254 of the Act that requires telecommunications service providers to contribute to the federal universal service fund. 

Obama: We've Achieved Goal of 98% Broadband Availability

On March 23, 2015, in The Washington Times, Ben Wolfgang reported that President Obama said 98 percent of Americans now have access to fourth-generation mobile broadband through a combination of taxpayer money and private investments. 
In 2011, the president first laid out the goal of providing broadband access to at least 98 percent of the nation and said he wanted to see it accomplished by the time he left office in 2017.
More information can be found in FACT SHEET: Next Steps in Delivering Fast, Affordable Broadband, released by the White House.


High Cost Program


April 2015