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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.

2/21/2017E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) outage, Tuesday, February 21, 2017


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) is currently experiencing an outage and users are unable to access the system. This message will be updated when the system is back on line. We apologize for the inconvenience. 

2/20/2017E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: February 23


USAC's E-File system (including My Portal) will be unavailable for all users on Thursday, February 23, from 9:00-11:00 PM ET, for system maintenance. All online FCC forms for contributors, service providers, eligible telecommunications carriers, and health care providers will not be accessible. During this time, users will be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Forms 460, 461, 462, 463, 465, 466, 467, 473, 481, 497, 498, 499, 555, 690, or Telecommunications Program invoices online. 

NLAD and EPC will not be affected by this outage. We apologize for any inconvenience.

2/17/2017News Brief Issued


The 02/17/2017 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.

2/15/2017NLAD Release Version 3.2.1


NLAD version 3.2.1 has been released into the Production Environment today, February 14, 2017. The following system update has been included in this release:

New "Mailing Address Validated" Field in the Detail Active Subscriber and Detail Duplicate Subscriber Reports
The "Mailing Address Validated" field has been added to the Detail Active Subscriber and Detail Duplicate Subscriber Reports. 

The "Mailing Address Validated" field is displayed after the "Mailing ZIP" field. The "Mailing Address Validated" field will display the Address Matching Service (AMS) pass/fail result of the Mailing Address if the subscriber's record contains a mailing address.

Please note that both the Detail Active Subscriber Report and Detail Duplicate Subscriber Report now contain one additional field and service providers should be prepared to receive one additional data field when submitting an API request for these reports.

2/14/2017FCC Announces Results of 2017 Urban Rate Survey


On February 14, 2017, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 17-167) announcing the 2017 rate floor for incumbent ETCs and reasonable comparability benchmarks for fixed voice and broadband services. In addition, the notice announced the posting of the fixed voice and broadband services data collected in the most recent urban rate survey, and explanatory notes regarding the data, on the FCC’s website. The notice also announces the required minimum usage allowance for ETCs subject to public interest obligations for fixed broadband.

The Public Notice indicates that each ETC providing fixed voice services must certify in the FCC Form 481 filed no later than July 1, 2017, that the pricing of its basic residential voice services is no more than $49.51. The reasonable comparability broadband benchmark varies, depending upon the supported service’s download and upload bandwidths and usage allowance. A table providing the details can be found in the Public Notice.

2/10/2017FCC Waives Bidding Rules for Certain HCPs Served by Network Services Solutions for FY2016


On February 10, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order (DA 17-164) waiving sections 54.603; 54.615; and 54.642 of the FCC competitive bidding rules governing the Rural Health Care (RHC) Telecommunications and Healthcare Connect Fund Programs (collectively, RHC Programs) for certain health care providers (HCPs).

Pursuant to the waiver, affected HCPs have the option of receiving funding for a new service provider from the date a new funding request was submitted through the end of FY2016 (June 30, 2017). These HCPs will not need to submit a new request for services (FCC Form 465 or FCC Form 461) to seek competitive bids for the most cost-effective service provider, but will need to submit a new funding request (FCC Form 466 or FCC Form 462) and any documentation required for the relevant FCC Forms.  

To see if you are covered by the FCC’s waiver order, please check the Appendix attached to the order.  Only those HCPs and funding request numbers contained in the Appendix are covered.

Questions? Contact us!

For questions or more information about the waiver, contact:

2/10/2017FCC Releases the 2017 FCC Forms 499-A & 499-Q


On February 9, 2017, the FCC announced (DA 17-161) the release of the FCC Form 499-A and accompanying instructions to be used in 2017 to report 2016 revenues, and the FCC Form 499-Q and accompanying instructions to be used in 2017 to report projected and collected revenues on a quarterly basis. Filers can find copies of these forms with the FCC Public Notice

USAC will make these forms available on our Contributor Forms page in late February when our E-FIle system is updated to accept the 2017 FCC Form 499-A electronically.

2/10/2017HUBB Is Coming Soon, Be Prepared! FAQs Now Available


The High Cost Universal Broadband (HUBB) portal will soon be live and ready to accept broadband deployment data from carriers participating in the modernized Connect America programs.

Carriers can take steps now to prepare for the HUBB launch and be ready to file data showing where they are building out mass-market, high-speed Internet service.

USAC is committed to helping carriers file successfully with the HUBB. Below are some resources from USAC and the FCC to help carriers collect geolocated broadband deployment data, check its accuracy, and upload it to the portal:

2/9/2017Buildout Methodology Selection made by All Carriers for CAF Broadband Loop Support


USAC has collected the buildout methodology selection made by all carriers for Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support, including those with no buildout requirement (NBR). This information is now posted on USAC’s website on the High Cost Program Tools page.

2/9/2017E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, February 12


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, February 12 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in, or to file, certify, and search for certain forms via the EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

2/7/2017Deployment Obligations for Rate-of-Return Carriers


On February 3, 2017, the FCC released updated information regarding the mandatory deployment obligations that will apply to rate-of-return carriers who remain on legacy universal service support mechanisms. This updated information now includes deployment obligations for ASTCA.

This information is now posted on USAC’s website on the High Cost Program Search Tools page. 

2/6/2017FCC Releases Order on Reconsideration for Lifeline Broadband Providers (LBPs)


On Friday, the FCC released an Order on Reconsideration for LBP designations. The order allows the FCC to reconsider the Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) designations for nine new Lifeline broadband providers. 

USAC appreciates the FCC's commitment to universal service and the integrity of the Lifeline Program. Reconsiderations of recent decisions are common during administration changes.

Current Lifeline ETCs with voice designations are still authorized to provide Lifeline-supported broadband service. USAC will work closely with the FCC and service providers to minimize the effect on consumers, following the approach laid out in the order. Lifeline subscribers of the affected LBPs will be allowed to select a new service provider. 

2/3/2017Special Edition News Brief - Dates of the E-rate Funding Year 2017 Application Filing Window


The 02/03/2017 Special Edition 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.

2/2/2017Invitation to Webinar: Lifeline Program Updates February 8


Join us to hear updates about the Lifeline Program, including the Lifeline Modernization Order and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). During the webinars, you can ask questions and participate in a collaborative dialog with USAC and stakeholders throughout the industry.

Lifeline Program Updates Webinar, Wednesday, February 8, 3:00 PM ET
REGISTER NOW 

Webinar Agenda
During the webinar, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss:

  • Eligibility Programs and Documentation

To foster a collaborative discussion with our audience, we will accept live questions during the event. We look forward to hearing your questions and comments!

Q&A and Event Resources
Please submit questions and comments in advance to the Lifeline Program while registering. Visit the Lifeline Program Update Webinars page to find the webinar recording, slide deck, and list of questions and answers for each event.

2/1/2017Federal Poverty Guidelines Updated for 2017


On January 31, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services published the 2017 Federal Poverty Guidelines in the Federal Register. Lifeline Program carriers should ensure their eligibility materials are updated to reflect the new Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2017. Federal Poverty Guidelines are typically updated each year in late January, and USAC releases a guide set at 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines shortly thereafter. 

1/30/2017498/499 Spotlight Newsletter 1Q2017 Issued


The 1Q2017 498/499 Spotlight newsletter is now available. The 498/499 Spotlight newsletter is designed to provide important, up-to-date information about the FCC Form 498 and FCC Form 499 including news, deadlines, and filing best practices for service providers. 

To sign up to receive the 498/499 Spotlight newsletter via email, visit the subscription center.

1/27/2017Please Disregard EPC Account Creation Email


The EPC system has sent some applicants an email in error from the address portal-int@usac.org notifying them that they can create an account in EPC.

Please disregard this message, it was sent in error. We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience.

1/26/2017Invitation to Webinar Series: Filing FCC Form 499-A March 6, 9, 15, and 16


All telecommunications providers (including de minimis carriers) must submit FCC Form 499-A, which reports historical revenue data from 2016 and is due Monday, April 3, 2017.

Join USAC for a webinar about FCC Form 499-A, the Annual Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet. This year, we are offering four webinars, each tailored to a specific audience. Based on your primary line of telecommunications service, please select the webinar that best fits your needs. Each webinar will cover the same general information about filing the FCC Form 499-A, so there is no need to attend more than one. 

View Events and Register: FCC Form 499-A Webinar Series
Live webinars from 2:00 PM-3:30 PM ET on March 6, 9, 15 and 16, 2017

MARCH 6, 2017, from 2:00-3:30 PM ET - Filing FCC Form 499-A: for Wireline Local & Long Distance Companies
In this webinar, designed for wireline local and long distance companies and have revenue associated with local calling, including PICC charges (when they exist) and vertical features, we’ll cover wireline long distance calling, including international calls, and the yearly true up process.

MARCH 9, 2017, from 2:00-3:30 PM ET -Filing FCC Form 499-A: for VoIP Service Providers
In this webinar, designed for VoIP service providers, we’ll cover VoIP revenue, both local and long distance, including how to use the FCC’s safe harbor percentages and when to send in traffic studies. (FCC Form 499-A lines 404.4, 404.5, 414.2)

MARCH 15, 2017, from 2:00-3:30 PM ET -Filing FCC Form 499-A: for Mobile Service Providers
In this webinar, designed for mobile service providers, including those providing paging services and specialized mobile radio (SMR), we’ll discuss filing for mobile services (which are cell phone calling, paging, and SMR).  We will also go over the non-USF assessable revenue lines of 418.1 – 418.4 and the summation/bad debt lines of 419 – 423 on the FCC Form 499-A.

MARCH 16, 2017, from 2:00-3:30 PM ET -Filing FCC Form 499-A: for All Other Services
This webinar is designed for providers of all "other" services, such as those providers interested in learning about state and federal USF, local and long distance private lines, payphones (including prison payphones), prepaid cards, calls that do not originate, terminate, or transit the United States, calls that use special billing arrangements, and satellite services. (FCC Form 499-A lines 403, 406, 407, 411, 412, 413, 415, 416, 417.) 

1/26/2017LI Program News: FCC Form 555 Deadline, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, and more!


The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

1/26/2017E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: Sunday, January 29


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from 7:00-10:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 29 for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in, or to file, certify, and search for certain forms via the EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

1/24/2017FCC Authorizes Revised A-CAM Support


On January 24, 2017, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 17-99) authorizing 182 rate-of-return companies that elected 217 revised offers of Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) support to receive model-based support. Nationwide, a total of 207 rate-of-return carriers in 43 states have now been authorized to receive A-CAM support.

1/24/2017E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: January 26


USAC's E-File system for FCC Forms 498 and 499 filers will be unavailable Thursday, January 26, from 6:00-10:00 PM ET, for system maintenance. The online FCC Forms 498 and 499 will not be accessible for contributors or service providers. During this time, users will be unable to file, certify, and search for FCC Forms 498 and 499 online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

1/19/2017USAC Submits Updated Version of the National Verifier Plan to the FCC


USAC submitted an updated National Verifier Plan  to the FCC on January 19, 2017. Please share your questions and feedback about this version of the plan on the Lifeline National Verifier Blog.

1/18/2017Reminder! Update Company Marketing Name and Customer Service Number by January 18


Remember to update your company's marketing name and customer service phone number in NLAD by close of business today. 

USAC needs this information to include on the USAC-elected Lifeline recertification letter to your subscribers. Thank you in advance for updating your information by COB on January 18. View more action items and their deadlines on the To-Do List for participating companies.

How to Update Marketing Name and Customer Service Number
To update your company's marketing name and phone number in NLAD, have your company's NLAD "ETC Admin" complete the following steps:

  1. Log into the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD)
  2. Select "ETC Administrator Home Page" from the left-hand menu (under the "Account Management" list)
  3. Select "Maintain SAC Information"
  4. Select each SAC in your account and enter the "marketing name" and customer service phone number
  5. Press the "update" button at the bottom of your screen

Need Help? Contact Us!
For more information, visit the USAC-Elected Recertification for 2017 web page. If you have any questions about the USAC-elected recertification process, please contact us via email.

You are the contact person for your company's participating SACs. If any company or contact information is missing or incorrect, please contact us as soon as possible to change it.

1/13/2017Elect A-CAM by January 19 or Remain with High Cost Legacy Funding


Carriers have until 5:30 PM EST on Thursday, January 19, 2017, to notify the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they elect to receive High Cost Program support based on the Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM). Carriers can make this election on a state-by-state basis. 

No action is required if carriers wish to continue to receive support from reformed legacy mechanisms, including Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS) and High Cost Loop Support (HCLS), if applicable. If a carrier fails to submit any final election letter by the January 19, 2017 deadline, it will remain on legacy support.

To Select A-CAM Support
To elect A-CAM support, carriers must email the FCC at ConnectAmerica@fcc.gov and indicate their A-CAM election in the email, along with specific state elections (if applicable). Elections will be considered timely if the FCC receives them by 5:30 PM EST on January 19, 2017. (Note: please see 47 CFR Section 0.403, 1.7). Carriers should not mail a hard copy of their election letter to the FCC.

Carriers submitting election letter emails will receive an e-mail confirmation receipt from the FCC.  Should carriers not receive this receipt, they should contact the FCC, via email or via phone at (202) 418-7400, no later than 4:00 PM EST on January 19, 2017. Confirmation of receipt does not constitute authorization to receive A-CAM support.

Background on A-CAM
The Rate-of-Return Order allows carriers to elect the new A-CAM model, which provides a set amount of monthly support over 10 years, or remain with a reformed version of legacy support mechanisms, including CAF-BLS and HCLS. After receiving initial carrier elections by November 1, the FCC took a number of steps to address high demand for A-CAM support. 

Those steps include allocating an additional $50 million annually to the A-CAM budget and making revised offers to 191 carriers that previously elected A-CAM. The methodology used to calculate the revised offers reduces support by varying percentages based on how many locations in a carrier’s eligible service territory still lack access to broadband speeds of 10 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabit per second upstream. Carriers that accept the revised offer of support must agree to meet the terms of the original A-CAM offer if additional support becomes available in 2017 to fund the original offers.

More Resources
For more information, please visit our Rate of Return Reform Order web page. If you have any questions, please contact us at HC Questions.

1/13/2017No Additional Filing Windows for FY2016; FY2017 Filing Window to Run From March 1-June 30, 2017


No Additional Filing Window Periods for Funding Year 2016  

Due to an extraordinarily high demand for Rural Health Care (RHC) Program funds in Funding Year 2016 (FY2016), there will not be a third filing window period and no more funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) will be accepted for FY2016. Current projections show that the total dollar value of all qualifying funding requests received will either meet or slightly exceed the program’s $400 million annual cap. 
 
While FY2016 is closed to new funding requests, My Portal continues to accept Telecom Program FCC Form 467 (Connection Certification Form) and Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program FCC Form 463 (Invoice and Request for Disbursement Form) for applicants approved for funding in FY2016.
 
           What This Means for Applicants:

  • If the final total dollar value of all qualifying funding requests does not exceed the $400M annual funding cap during the second filing window period for FY2016, all qualifying requests will receive 100% of the requested funding.
  • If the final total dollar value of all qualifying funding requests exceeds the $400M annual cap during the second filing window period for FY2016, all qualifying funding requests will receive a pro-rated percentage of the total funds available during the second filing window period, based on the total amount of funding requested during the second filing window period.
  • Those qualifying requests filed prior to the second filing window period will receive 100% of the requested funding.


 Funding Year 2017 Initial Filing Window Period March 1 - June 30, 2017 

The initial filing window period for Funding Year 2017 (FY2017) will be from March 1 – June 30, 2017, rather than February 1 – April 30, as previously stated. 

Why delay the filing window period start date and extend the close date?
The delay of the initial filing window period start date and extension of the close date will allow applicants additional time to conduct their competitive bidding processes. It will also grant more time for new applicants, including the newly eligible skilled nursing facilities(SNFs), to familiarize themselves with program requirements, obtain eligibility determinations for the RHC Program, and apply for RHC Program funding.


Do applicants have to wait until March to get started?
No. Applicants can start submitting other necessary forms for FY2017 (FCC Forms 460, 461, or 465) before the filing window period opens, and the RHC Program strongly recommends doing so. However, applicants must wait until the start of the initial filing window period for FY2017 on March 1 to submit their FCC Forms 462 (for the HCF Program) or FCC Forms 466 (for the Telecom Program).


Applicants that submitted an FCC Form 461 or FCC Form 465 but did not submit a corresponding FCC Form 462 or FCC Form 466 for FY2016 will need to submit a new FCC Form 461 or FCC Form 465 for FY2017 if they do not meet an HCF Program competitive bidding exemption.


What is the likelihood of additional filing window periods for FY2017?
At this time, USAC is opening an initial filing window period for FY2017 from March 1 – June 30, 2017. If the total dollar value of all qualifying funding requests received during the first filing window period for FY2017 does not exceed the cap, USAC will provide notice about any subsequent filing window periods for FY2017, based on its assessment of the total qualifying funding requested in the initial filing window period and the amount of available funding still remaining.


More Resources
Please visit our filing window period web page for more information about filing windows periods and pro-ration or contact RHC-Assist@usac.org with questions.


1/12/2017NLAD Release Version 3.1.0


NLAD version 3.1.0 has been released into the Production Environment today, January 12, 2017. The following system enhancement has been included in this release:

Addition of Filter to Detail Active Subscriber Report in User Interface (UI)
NLAD users can now filter the "Detail Active Subscriber Report" by Anniversary Month when viewing this report through the NLAD UI.

1/12/2017Service Disruption with Online FCC Form 497 (last updated 11:30 AM ET)


USAC is still working to resolve the service disruption with the online FCC Form 497.

Due to this extended system outage, we are again extending the deadline to file for the December data month to 11:59 PM ET on Wednesday, January 11 Thursday, January 12.

We sincerely appreciate your continued patience and will provide another update at 3:00 PM ET today.

Update 1/10/17 3:00 PM ET: We are still testing an update to the system and will provide another update at 5:00 PM ET.

Update 1/10/17 5:00 PM ET:  USAC is still working to resolve the service disruption. We are again extending the filing deadline to 11:59 PM on Thursday, January 12. We will provide an update tomorrow, January 11, at 1:00 PM ET.

Update 1/11/17 1:00 PM ET: The online FCC Form 497 is still experiencing intermittent service disruptions. Some service providers were able to successfully file and certify their forms today; users are welcome to attempt filing their form but may still encounter problems. The online FCC Form 497 will be unavailable from 8:00 PM ET today until 8:00 AM ET tomorrow. The submission deadline remains 11:59 PM ET on January 12. We will provide an update tomorrow morning.

Update 1/12/17 11:30 AM ET: USAC made improvements to E-File overnight, and most users can submit their forms online. If you encounter a disruption while filing, please continue attempting to submit your filing throughout the day. If you are unable to complete your submission by the end of the day, contact us via email and we will provide assistance on an individual basis. 

1/6/2017How to File Successfully in HUBB


On January 5, 2017, USAC held a webinar "Successfully Filing Broadband Deployment Data with USAC". A recording of the webinar and a copy of the slide deck are now available on the website.

1/5/2017Form 497 Certification Window for December Data Month Extended to Thursday, January 12


Update: The extended deadline for the FCC Form 497 December data month is now Thursday, January 12, 2017.

* * * * * * * * * *

Some users are continuing to experience issues filing their FCC Form 497 online through E-File.

We have isolated the problem and are working to implement a fix as soon as possible. The system will be fully functional by close of business on Thursday, January 5.

Once again, we sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. We recognize that this disruption may have caused an undue burden on your business processes and we assure you that we are working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

In response to this event, forms submitted and certified through 11:59 pm on Tuesday, January 10 will be included in the January disbursement.

If you have any questions, please continue to contact us via email.

1/1/2017Reminder! New FCC Form 497 Beginning January 1


Beginning in January 2017, service providers should use the new FCC Form 497 when filing for the December 2016 data month and later (original filings and revisions for November 2016 and all prior months should continue using the earlier version of the form).

Changes to the form include:

Service types added: "Voice," "Broadband" and "Bundled": To claim support for a bundled offering, the service offerings for both voice and broadband need to meet the applicable minimum service standards as outlined in 47 CFR section 54.408. If only one of the service offerings meets the appropriate minimum service standards, then the subscriber should be included as either voice or broadband based on the qualifying service offering. 

Fields removed: Filer 499 ID, Technology Type (Wireline, Wireless), ETC Designation Type (Lifeline Only, High Cost/Low Income), "Deferred Interest" under Tribal Link Up, and the TLS Data Field.

Please visit the Lifeline Program Forms page to download the updated version of the form. Newly-updated FCC Form 497 forms and resources include:

If you have any questions about the FCC Form 497, please contact us via email for assistance.

12/30/2016RHC Forms Enhancements Live January 1, 2017


On January 1, 2017, the RHC Program Forms, which expired on December 31, 2016, will be replaced with new OMB-approved forms. These changes will be reflected in My Portal and you will notice minor changes. These new fields promote alignment between the programs, ensuring that the same data is collected, such as a new entry field for your organization’s website and enhanced document uploading capabilities.

These changes will apply to both FY2016 and FY2017 forms. If you started a form in calendar year 2016, the system will automatically pre-populate the new forms with your saved information on January 1, 2017, but you may have to enter additional information for new mandatory fields before submitting.

Please note that we continue to update forms instructions to better align the HCF and Telecom Programs, and will update instructions on both the Forms page on the USAC website and My Portal accordingly. Form instructions or PDF versions of forms that are generated in My Portal to enable applicants to view the data they have entered are for applicants’ reference only, and are not OMB-approved versions of application forms. Forms and instructions posted on the USAC website will be updated in early January to reflect the new forms.

Beginning January 1, 2017, applicants may only submit form data through the online interface and may not submit paper or PDF versions of paper forms. Telecom Program applicants requiring additional assistance with the transition to submission online can contact USAC via email.

For additional information about specific forms updates for the Telecom and HCF Programs, see the 2017 forms enhancements list.

12/30/2016Request EPC Training Site Login Credentials for Conducting FCC Form 486 Demonstrations


You can now request training site login credentials for the purpose of conducting FCC Form 486 demonstrations. Please email us to request a special FCC Form 486 login for an independent school, an independent library, or one of each.

12/30/2016Fourth Quarter 2016 RHC Circuit Issued


The 4Q2016 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

12/28/2016FCC Authorizes Support and Approves Performance Plans for Alaska Plan Participants


On December 21, 2016,  the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1425) authorizing Alaska Plan support for 13 Alaskan rate-of-return carriers. A separate Public Notice (DA 16-1419), approving the performance plans  of the eight wireless providers that elected to participate in the Alaska Plan, was released at the same time. Both documents may be accessed on the Rate-of-Return Reform Order page.

12/28/2016FCC Announces A-CAM Support


On December 20, 2016 the FCC released an Order (FCC 16-178) adopting measures to address the significant demand for A-CAM support. At the same time, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1422) authorizing 35 rate-of-return companies to receive more than $51 million annually in A-CAM support  and announced offers of revised A-CAM support amounts to 191 rate-of-return companies. Both documents may be accessed on the Rate-of-Return Reform Order page.

12/23/2016NLAD Release Version 3.0.4


NLAD Release Version 3.0.4

NLAD version 3.0.4 has been released into the Production Environment today, December 22, 2016. The following system updates were included in this release:

Addition of Port Freeze Validations for Verify/Enroll Transactions
For all "Verify" and "Enroll" transactions, service providers can now confirm if a subscriber is under a port freeze and lookup the eligible date for a transfer (when applicable).

New API Account Functionality for Service Providers in California
California service providers now have the ability to lookup a subscriber to determine if the subscriber is enrolled in NLAD.

New Snapshot Summary Report Fields in User Interface (UI) and API
The "Summary Subscriber Snapshot Report" will now display the total count of all active Tribal and Non-Tribal subscribers in the following fields:


• Non Tribal Voice 
• Non Tribal Broadband 
• Non Tribal Bundled 
• Tribal Voice 
• Tribal Broadband 
• Tribal Broadband


Please note this report now has four (4) additional data fields. Service providers should be prepared to receive a total of nine (9) data fields when submitting an API request for this report.

Questions about NLAD
 
If you have any questions, contact us at NLADSupport@usac.org or (877) 524-1325.
 
 
   

12/23/2016EPC Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, December 23, 2016-Saturday, December 24, 2016


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC Training Site will be unavailable from Friday, December 23, 2016 at 9:00 PM ET – until completion of system maintenance on Saturday, December 24, 2016 at 1:00 AM ET. During this time, users will be unable to log in, or to file, certify, and search for certain forms via the EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.
 

12/21/2016USAC Posts Second Offer for A-CAM Support


On December 20, 2016, USAC posted details of the second offer for A-CAM support, which includes legacy transition payments, to the Rate-of-Return Reform Order section of the website.

12/21/2016Modernization Update: National Verifier Draft Plan, Eligibility Verification, and More


The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

12/20/2016Ombudsman Inquiries Now Must Be Submitted to CSB or through EPC


Effective December 21, 2016, USAC is discontinuing the E-rate Program’s Ombudsman@usac.org email account and will now accept all customer service inquires directly through the Client Service Bureau (CSB). Program inquiries and concerns may also be submitted to USAC through a customer service case in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC).  If you have submitted an inquiry to the Ombudsman account before December 21, 2016, a member of the Ombudsman Office will contact you.

CSB can assist with status updates on your E-rate applications, invoice requests, and address questions regarding the E-rate Program. Contact CSB at (888) 203-8100 between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM ET. Please have any relevant entity and application numbers readily available when you call.

To create a customer service case in EPC:

  • Log in to the EPC Portal.
  • Click on the “Actions” icon on the blue menu bar and chose the “Contact Us” selection.
  • Complete the case information and upload any supporting documents (if applicable).
  • Submit the customer service case and a member from CSB will review your case and then contact you.

12/19/2016Webinar: How to Be Successful with the HUBB Portal - January 5


Join USAC for a webinar on Thursday, January 5 at 2:00 PM, to prepare for the upcoming launch of the HUBB (High Cost Universal Broadband) portal.

Webinar: How to Be Successful with the HUBB Portal
January 5, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Register Now

Topics

  • An overview of different methods for gathering correct geographic coordinates showing broadband deployment, along with an explanation of the pros and cons of these approaches.
  • A demonstration of a new data validator tool that allows carriers to check the accuracy of their deployment data before officially uploading it to the portal.
  • Answers to questions submitted in advance using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form.
  • Live Q&A

Please note: USAC will not discuss or answer policy questions.

Who should attend
Carriers participating in modernized Connect America programs should attend this webinar.

Reporting Geolocated Data in the HUBB
Starting in 2017, carriers participating in modernized Connect America programs must file deployment data with USAC’s HUBB portal showing where they are building out mass-market, high-speed Internet service by precise location. This information will include latitude and longitude coordinates for every location where service is available, and will eventually be displayed on a public-facing map showing the impact of Connect America funding on broadband expansion throughout rural America. HUBB will be available and ready to accept geolocated deployment data in early 2017, in time for a March 1 filing deadline.

Support
If you have any questions about the event or the HUBB portal, please contact HC Questions.

12/9/2016FCC Releases Public Notice Providing Guidance on Reporting Obligations


On December 8, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1363) providing guidance to Connect America Fund recipients regarding their obligation to report geo-located broadband information and make service milestone certifications to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

12/8/2016Invitation to Webinar: Lifeline Program Updates December 14


Join us to hear updates about the Lifeline Program, including the Lifeline Modernization Order and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). During the webinars, you can ask questions and participate in a collaborative dialog with USAC and stakeholders throughout the industry.

Lifeline Program Updates Webinar, Wednesday, December 14, 3:00 PM ET
REGISTER NOW 

Webinar Agenda
During the webinar, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss:

  • Update on the Lifeline Modernization Changes and Next Steps

To foster a collaborative discussion with our audience, we will accept live questions during the event. We look forward to hearing your questions and comments!

Q&A and Event Resources
Please submit questions and comments in advance to the Lifeline Program while registering. Visit the Lifeline Program Update Webinars page to find the webinar recording, slide deck, and list of questions and answers for each event.

12/7/2016NLAD Release Version 3.0.1


NLAD version 3.0.1 has been released into the Production Environment today, December 6, 2016. The following system updates were included in this release:

New "INVALID_BROADBAND_SVCINITDATE" error message

  • In compliance with the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, the "svcinitdate" cannot precede December 2, 2016 for Service Types where broadband meets the minimum service standards (Broadband, Bundled - Broadband, Bundled - Voice and Broadband).
  • The updated API Specification document containing the new error message code and description is now available in the NLAD Production Environment.

Update to Eligibility Program Code "E16 - State Eligibility Waiver"

  • This Eligibility Program code should only be used by states that have been granted a waiver by the FCC. These states are:
    • California
    • Maryland
    • Michigan
    • New York
    • Utah
    • Vermont
    • Washington
    • Wisconsin
  • The updated NLAD User Guide containing the new Eligibility Program code and the list of states that have been granted waivers is now available in the NLAD Production environment.

12/2/2016Production Release of the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order Changes


NLAD version 3.0.0 has been released into the Production Environment today, December 2nd, 2016. Reflected in this release are the enhancements to the lifeline program that are detailed on USAC’s 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order webpage. The release includes:

New NLAD fields:

  • Service Type (Required Field): Service Providers must input the service that meets the Lifeline Program minimum service standards.
  • Subscriber ID: System-generated unique record identifier; can be used to perform “Update” and “De-enroll” transactions. All existing and new NLAD subscribers will be assigned a Subscriber ID.
  • Anniversary Date: System-generated due date for rolling recertification, occurs every 12 months from the customer's service initiation date, or the date when their eligibility was last verified.

NLAD Enhancements

  • Ability to Enroll "Broadband" service type subscribers without a phone number; Phone Number field will be optional when the "Broadband" only service type is selected
  • Inclusion of the 12-month or 60-day Port Freeze restriction based on the subscriber’s Service Initiation Date and Service Type
  • Ability to submit a Port Freeze Exception resolution request
  • New validation for the Lifeline Tribal Benefit flag – designation is now required
  • Updated Lifeline Program Eligibility Codes
  • Updated Reports to include the Service Type, Anniversary Date, and Subscriber ID fields  

The NLAD user guide and API Specification document reflecting these changes are now available in the “Reports and Tools” section of the Production environment.

Questions about NLAD
If you have any questions, contact us at NLADSupport@usac.org or (877) 524-1325.




11/30/2016Release of NLAD v.3.0.0 on Thursday, December 1


The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will be unavailable on Thursday, December 1 from 9:00 PM to Friday, December 2nd at 2:00 AM ET. Both the pre-production and production environments will unavailable for use during this time.
 
NLAD v.3.0.0 will be released during this outage.
 
This release includes:

  • Deployment of the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order changes in the NLAD production environment  
  •  

    11/29/2016Lifeline Forbearance Notifications Must List Census Blocks


    By December 2, 2016, Service Providers (i.e. Lifeline carriers) electing forbearance relief from offering Lifeline broadband must identify the Census blocks, or in the case of Lifeline-only ETCs, the Census recognized geographic area (e.g., Census blocks, Census block groups, Census tracts, or Counties), in their FCC forbearance notifications. Providing SAC Codes rather than Census blocks is not sufficient.
     
    For additional information about Lifeline forbearance notifications, please visit the USAC website.   

    11/23/2016Filing Procedures for Forbearance, State-Managed Eligibility Verification


    The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

    11/17/2016High Cost Program ETCs Required to Offer Lifeline Broadband Starting December 2


    Beginning December 2, 2016, recipients of High Cost Program support will be obligated to offer Lifeline broadband service as outlined in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order.

    Most Providers Must Offer Lifeline-Supported Broadband Starting December 2 
    Service providers that receive high-cost support through the Universal Service Fund and commercially offer service that meets the Lifeline minimum service standards are required to offer Lifeline-supported broadband internet access service (BIAS) starting on December 2, 2016. This change is part of the FCC's 2016 Lifeline Modernization order.

    Once you begin offering Lifeline-supported broadband service to customers in your area, file FCC Form 497 to receive reimbursement. Please ensure the Lifeline blocks of FCC Form 498 (blocks 7&8) are completed and submit a Lifeline SAC Request Update before submitting FCC Form 497. Visit USAC's website to learn more.

    Details about Broadband Obligations
    A recipient of high-cost support is required to offer Lifeline BIAS starting December 2, 2016, if it:

    • Is commercially providing broadband consistent with its obligations set forth in the Commission's high-cost rules and the Lifeline minimum service standards; or
    • Has deployed a network capable of delivering service that meets the Lifeline minimum service standards, and commercially offers such service pursuant to its high-cost obligations.

    An ETC is that receives high-cost support is not required to offer Lifeline BIAS if it meets one of these conditions and files for forbearance:

    • Receives frozen high-cost support;
    • Does not receive high-cost support in the specific census block;
    • Does not commercially offer a broadband service in the census block that meets the minimum service standards of the Lifeline program pursuant to its high-cost obligations;
    • Has not yet deployed a broadband network consistent with its high-cost public interest obligation to offer broadband (in this case, it does not have an obligation to provide Lifeline broadband service until it deploys a broadband network and is commercially offering service to that area).

    About the Lifeline Program
    The federal Lifeline Program provides a monthly benefit of $9.25 ($34.25 for subscribers living on Tribal lands) to help eligible low income consumers access phone and, beginning in December 2016, broadband service. The benefit is paid directly to service providers who then pass the cost reduction along to subscribers.

    11/16/2016NLAD Bulletin: Pre-Production Release of Subscriber ID Field


    NLAD version 2.8.12 has been released into the Pre-Production environment today, November 16, 2016. This release includes the addition of a new system-generated "Subscriber ID" field in NLAD. This enhancement allows carriers to:

    • Use the "Subscriber ID" field as a unique record identifier.
    • Perform "Update" or "De-enroll" transactions using the "Subscriber ID" field instead of the phone number.
    • Enroll "Broadband" service type subscribers without a phone number. A phone number will not be required for subscribers with a "Broadband" service type.

    These changes are only effective in the Pre-Production environment. They will not be live in the Production environment until December 2, 2016. These are the final planned changes in NLAD before the Modernization Order rules take effect on December 2, 2016.

    The API Specification document reflecting these changes has been available in "Reports and Tools" section of the Pre-Production environment.

    11/15/2016498/499 Spotlight Newsletter 4Q2016 Issued


    The 4Q2016 498/499 Spotlight newsletter is now available. The 498/499 Spotlight newsletter is designed to provide important, up-to-date information about the FCC Form 498 and FCC Form 499 including news, deadlines, and filing best practices for service providers. 

    To sign up to receive the 498/499 Spotlight newsletter via email, visit the subscription center.

    11/4/2016Modernization Updates: Benefit Port Freeze


    The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

    11/2/2016E-File Password Reset Requests


    On Saturday, October 29, 2016, we upgraded our E-File login platform to provide identity management, single sign-on, and mobility management for our applications.  As a result of this action, online password reset requests will result in an email to the user with further instructions for changing their password.  It may take up to 10 minutes for this email to be delivered to you.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

    11/2/2016One Month to Go! Modernization Rules Effective December 2


    Big changes to the Lifeline Program take effect one month from today, on Friday, December 2, 2016. Lifeline service providers should be prepared to comply with the rules from 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order starting on December 2, which include:

    • Lifeline for broadband: Customers may choose to use their Lifeline benefit on either fixed/mobile broadband or voice service (still only one benefit per household).
    • New and retired eligibility programs: Customers can now use the Federal Veterans Pension to prove their eligibility for Lifeline, but they can no longer use LIHEAP, TANF, or the National School Lunch Program.
    • Minimum service standards: Lifeline-supported voice services must provide at least 500 minutes per month; mobile broadband must be a speed of at least 3G with a usage allowance of at least 500 MB; fixed broadband must be a speed of at least 10/1 Mbps with a usage allowance of at least 150 GB.
    • Benefit port freeze: Customers are required to remain with their service provider for a minimum period of 60 days (voice) or 12 months (fixed/mobile broadband) before they can switch their benefit to a different provider.
    • Rolling recertification: Service providers must annually verify each customer's continued eligibility by the customer's service initiation anniversary date. 
    • Usage and non-usage: Texts count as usage, and the non-usage period is shortened from 60 to 30 days.

    USAC will submit the National Verifier plan to the FCC on November 30. Visit our website to learn more about the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order rules that take effect on December 2.

    11/2/2016Invitation to Webinar: Lifeline Program Updates October 9


    Join us to hear updates about the Lifeline Program, including the Lifeline Modernization Order and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). During the webinars, you can ask questions and participate in a collaborative dialog with USAC and stakeholders throughout the industry.

    Lifeline Program Update Webinar, Wednesday, October 9, 3:00 PM ET
    REGISTER NOW 

    Webinar Agenda
    During the webinar, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss:

    • Status of the National Verifier 
    • Update to FCC Form 497

    To foster a collaborative discussion with our audience, we will accept pre-submitted and live questions during the event. We look forward to hearing your questions and comments!

    Q&A and Event Resources
    Please submit questions and comments in advance to the Lifeline Program while registering. Visit the Lifeline Program Update Webinars page to find the webinar recording, slide deck, and list of questions and answers for each event.

    10/31/2016NLAD Pre-Production Release of Port Freeze Restriction


    NLAD version 2.8.11 has been released into the Pre-Production environment today, October 31, 2016. Reflected in the release are the Lifeline benefit Port Freeze restrictions that are detailed in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. The release includes:

    • The 12-month or 60-day Port Freeze restriction based on the subscriber’s Service Initiation Date
    • The ability to submit a Port Freeze Exception resolution request

    These changes are only effective in the Pre-Production environment. They will not be live in Production until the associated Modernization Order changes take effect on December 2, 2016.

    The API Specification document reflecting these changes has been available in “Reports and Tools” section of the Pre-Production environment.

    10/31/2016Modernization Updates: LBP Designation Process, Update on National Verifier, and More


    The next issue of LI Program News is now available.

    10/28/2016FCC Extends Deadline for E-rate Participants to Request Invoice Deadline Extensions


    Today, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1234) extending the deadline for E-rate participants with an October 28, 2016 invoice deadline for Funding Year 2015 to request an extension of the invoice deadline due to technical problems that might have prevented parties from filing. You should submit your Funding Year 2015 extension request using the Invoice Extension Deadline Tool or the Submit a Question feature no later than Monday, October 31, 2016 at 11:59 PM ET.

    10/28/2016New Feature in the Lifeline Disbursement Tool: Subscriber Counts


    A new enhancement to the Funding Disbursement Search tool is now available. The tool now displays the number of tribal and non-tribal subscribers receiving support per study area code (SAC).

    Visit our website to use the new feature:

    • Visit the Lifeline Program website
    • Select "Search Tools" from the left-hand menu
    • Select the Funding Disbursement Search tool
    • Enter your search criteria and press the "Find" button
    • To see the subscriber counts, click the "+" button to the left of each row.

    10/28/2016FCC Issues Public Notice Regarding Implementation of the Rolling Recertification Process


    On October 27, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1227) providing additional guidance on the implementation of the rolling recertification process. 

    Please see the document for more information on the timeline and requirements for this process.

    10/25/2016FCC Releases Deployment Obligations for A-CAM and CAF-BLS


    On October 20, 2016, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA 16-1207) announcing the posting of information comparing the defined deployment obligations that would apply to rate-of-return carriers electing model-based support versus the defined deployment obligations for rate-of-return carriers remaining on the reformed legacy universal service mechanisms (including Connect America Fund-Broadband Loop Support, or CAF-BLS). The Public Notice includes a link to the deployment details.

    9/28/2016Webinar Invitation: Rate-of-Return Order Q&A with the FCC


    Join the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau Staff and USAC for a webinar on October 6 to discuss the status of implementation of the 2016 Rate-of-Return Reform Order.

    Rate-of-Return Reform Order Q&A
    The session will begin with a short presentation, but most of the time will be dedicated to Q&A with the FCC. The agenda includes:

    • Status of the implementation of the Rate-of-Return Reform Order (released March 30, 2016)
    • Questions submitted in advance (submit yours using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form)
    • Open Q&A

    Register Now: 2016 Rate-of-Return Order Q&A
    Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM ET

    Carriers are encouraged to submit questions in advance using the "Questions and Comments" section of the registration form. 

    This session will be recorded and posted to USAC's Online Learning Library for later viewing. A recording of the Rate-of-Return Reform Order webinar presented in April 2016 is also available on that page, along with the slide deck and Q&A.

    If you have any questions about the event, please contact HC Questions.