File FCC Form 481

Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) participating in the High Cost program must file FCC Form 481 with USAC on an annual basis. This form collects financial and operations information used to validate carrier support and fulfills the annual 54.313 certification requirement.

Among other data, the Form 481 gathers information about a carrier’s holding company, operating companies, affiliates and branding designations (doing-business-as or DBA); ability to function in emergency situations; terrestrial backhaul; Tribal lands engagement; and comparability of voice and broadband service rates in rural and urban areas.

The Form 481 also includes a supply chain certification, which requires carriers to certify that no universal service support is being used to purchase, rent, lease, obtain or maintain any equipment or services produced or provided by any company designated by the FCC as posing a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain.

Requirements

Who Must File:

All eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) receiving High Cost program and/or Lifeline support.

When and What to File:

Due July 1: Although the FCC Form 481 is typically due by July 1, the commission established a deadline of July 29, 2022 this year because it was still awaiting Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) approval for the annual data collection from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as of July 1, 2022. OMB has now granted that approval and carriers have until July 29, 2022 to file and certify Form 481  (Carrier Annual Reporting Data Collection Form) for Program year 2023. This year’s filing is called Program Year 2023 because the information in the filing will be used for disbursements for 2023. The data filed is from 2021, which is the most recent full calendar year for which data is available.

Carriers are no longer required to submit separate copies of the Form 481 filing to the FCC, state utility commissions or Tribal communities that they serve.

How to File:

Carriers must complete and submit this form online with USAC using One Portal. Please see USAC’s Multifactor Authentication Troubleshooting Steps for help logging into One Portal. Carriers may begin the filing and save it to edit or complete at a later time. Simply log in as usual to see a list of forms in progress and continue work. Resources to help with a successful Form 481 filing are available on the High Cost Forms page.

Users must have one of the following Form 481 entitlement to access the Form 481 system:

  • Form 481 SPO: allows the user to enter and certify data.
  • Form 481 SPA: typically provided to agents outside the carrier; allows the user to enter data but not certify.
  • Form 481 SPU: typically provided to users within the carrier; allows the user to enter data but not certify.

The individual listed as the Company Officer on the carrier’s Form 498 can assign these entitlements. Company Officers or General Contacts with questions about One Portal (logging in to One Portal, password questions, establishing entitlements, and/or authorized users) should contact Customer Operations via email or at (888) 641-8722. For One Portal questions, customer service can only help the Company Officer or General Contact listed on a carrier’s FCC Form 498. Others should direct One Portal questions to the Company Officer or General Contact who established the carrier’s authorized user entitlements.

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

Use One Portal to file FCC Form 481 online.