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.
Who Must File:
All eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) receiving High Cost Program and/or Lifeline support, with the exception of Mobility Fund recipients.
When and What to File:
- Due July 1: FCC Form 481 (Carrier Annual Reporting Data Collection Form) for Program year 2020. This year’s filing is called Program Year 2020 because the information in the filing will be used for disbursements for 2020. The data filed is from 2018, which is the most recent full calendar year data available
How to File:
Carriers must complete and submit this form online with USAC using the E-file 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 E-File (logging in to E-File, password questions, establishing entitlements, and/or authorized users) should contact Customer Operations via email or at (888) 641-8722. If you are not the Company Officer or General Contact listed on your carrier’s FCC Form 498, Customer Operations cannot help you with E-File questions. Direct your questions to the Company Officer or General Contact who established you as an authorized user.
There is a reduction in support for late filings. The FCC will impose a minimum reduction of support of seven days since it is important that carriers meet all filing deadlines. After the initial seven days, support will be reduced further on a day-by-day basis until the carrier files the required certification, plus the minimum seven-day reduction. Therefore, a carrier that misses the deadline by four days would lose seven days of support. A carrier that misses the deadline by 14 days would lose 21 days of support [Report and Order (FCC 14-190), section C, numbers 131-132].
For a late filer, a one-time grace period of three days can be applied so that a carrier that quickly rectifies its error within three days of the deadline will not be subject to the seven-day minimum loss of support. Thus, a carrier that files a certification within two days of the deadline would not lose support, but a carrier that files a certification within five days of the deadline would lose seven days of support, and so on.
If the carrier files late again, the grace period will not be available [Report and Order (FCC 14-190), paragraph 133].
The FCC has determined that the grace period will be done at the holding company level. If a carrier misses the deadline and exercises the grace period, that grace period will not be available for all subsequent years to any of the holding company’s other operating companies that hold an ETC designation to serve a different study area [Report and Order (FCC 14-190), paragraph 134].
Trainings and Resources
Use E-File to file FCC Form 481 online.
- FCC Form 481 Template
- FCC Form 481 Instructions (July 2019)
- FCC Form 481 Upload Templates
- Rate-of-return filers should use the Section 3005 template to help them provide financial information.
- 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) – The order creating this certification/reporting requirement
- FCC Executive Summary – Summary of the USF/Transformation Order
- Report and Order (FCC 14-54) – Order implementing additional requirements for FCC Form 481
- Report and Order (FCC 14-190) – Order increasing the minimum speed requirements that recipients of High Cost Program support must offer to 10Mbps downstream