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Annual ETC Certification

In order to participate in the High Cost program and receive High Cost support, a provider must be certified as an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) annually under 47 CFR Section 54.314.

This federal regulation requires state utility commissions to certify that carriers under their jurisdiction are eligible to receive High Cost support in their states and used all support received in the proceeding calendar year only to provide, maintain and upgrade the facilities for which the support was intended and will do the same in the coming calendar year.

Carriers that self certify – ETCs not subject to state jurisdiction – must certify that they used all High Cost support received in the proceeding calendar year only to provide, maintain and upgrade the facilities for which the support was intended and will do the same in the coming calendar year.

State utility commissions and carriers that self certify must complete this annual ETC certification, and submit it to both USAC and the FCC, no later than October 1 every year.

Requirements

Who Must File

  • State regulatory commissions must certify that carriers under state jurisdiction are eligible to receive High Cost support in their states.
  • Carriers not under state jurisdiction must self-certify

What and When to File

  • 314 Certification is due annually by October 1

How to File

States and carriers that self certify may submit the annual ETC certifications to USAC through the 54.314 system, which is accessible through USAC’s E-File system. Please see USAC’s Multifactor Authentication Troubleshooting Steps for help logging into E-File.

In order to obtain access privileges to the 54.314 system – or change the representative who has access – state officials and carriers that self certify should contact the High Cost Division at HCCerts@usac.org to request an authorization form. Please note that USAC grants access to the 54.314 system to only one representative in each state.

State officials and carriers may also submit certifications to USAC by email, fax or mail, although USAC highly recommends filing online through the 54.314 system. Once logged into the system, users can complete the required certification online and then print a PDF copy of the certification to mail to the FCC.

States that complete this certification by mail, email or fax must sent a letter stating that ETCs under their jurisdiction used all support received in the proceeding calendar year only to provide, maintain and upgrade the facilities for which the support was intended and will do the same in the coming calendar year.

Carriers that self certify by mail, email or fax must sent a letter stating that they used all High Cost support received in the proceeding calendar year only to provide, maintain and upgrade the facilities for which the support was intended and will do the same in the coming calendar year.

Certification letters should include each carrier’s study area code (SAC), the six-digit number assigned to each carrier.

Filers must also submit certifications to the FCC online at fcc.gov/ecfs or via mail the following address

Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary
Federal Communications Commission Office of the
Secretary
9050 Junction Drive
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701
Delivery via hand or messenger will be accepted between 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. only

State Access Tool

To inform the 54.314 certification process, state officials may access the most recent FCC Form 481 filings for carriers under their jurisdiction, as well as state-level deployment data for broadband service supported by the Connect America Fund (CAF), through the USAC State Access Tool.

The State Access Tool allows state commissions to view and download the annual Form 481 filing and attachments submitted by carriers as of July 1 annually. FCC Form 481 collects financial and operations information used to validate carrier support. The tool also allows state commissions to view and download state-level broadband deployment data listing the locations where carriers that receive CAF support had built out mass-market, high-speed Internet service as of the end of the previous calendar year. This data includes address, latitude and longitude coordinates, carrier name, deployment year and maximum speeds available.

The State Access Tool is available through One Portal. State officials who do not already have access privileges to the tool should contact HCquestions@usac.org to request an authorization form.

Late Filings

Eligible telecommunications carriers will see a reduction of at least seven days of support for late certifications. After the first seven days, USAC will continue to reduce support on a day-by-day basis, plus an additional seven days, until the required certification is complete. A carrier would lose seven days of support for a certification that is four days late, for instance. And a carrier would lose 21 days of support for a certification that is 14 days late. [Report and Order (FCC 14-190), section C, numbers 131-132].

The FCC grants a one-time, three-day grace period for late certifications. This means that carriers will see no reduction in support for a late certification submitted within three days of the filing deadline if it is the first time that the certification is late. [Report and Order (FCC 14-190), paragraph 133].

This one-time grace period applies at the holding company level and across filing obligations. This means that if a carrier takes advantage of the three-day grace period for any filing, the grace period will not be available for any filing in subsequent years to other operating companies that serve different study areas but are owned by the same holding company. [Report and Order (FCC 14-190), paragraph 134].

Trainings and Resources

State Resources

Carrier Resources

Related Orders

  • FCC Connect America Fund information – FCC web page that lists Orders, Public Notices, and other information related to the Connect America Fund
  • USF/ICC Transformation Order (FCC 11-161) – Order updating this certification requirement
  • FCC Executive Summary – Summary of the USF/Transformation Order
  • Report and Order (FCC 14-54) – Order implementing adjustments to certification requirements
  • Report and Order (FCC 14-190)