In stark contrast to the Bureau’s more liberal waiver policy for recipients of Universal Service Funds, the Wireline Competition Bureau recently released orders affirming a tough stance for contributors who miss USF filing deadlines. In the Waiver Order, the Bureau granted two waviers of the deadline to file 499-A revisions. In the Denial Order, the Bureau denied ten requests for similar waivers. The difference? In the Waiver Order, the Bureau found "special circumstances" — complex revisions undertaken after a merger and late-filing due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By contrast, in the Denial Order, the Bureau characterized the reasons for late-filing as "simple negligence."
The Bureau’s stance is summarized with this quote from the Denial Order:
We reaffirm the importance of filing revisions to FCC Forms 499 promptly and within the windows established by the Commission’s rules and requirements. In order for USAC to process the thousands of forms it receives each year and for contributors to know that their contributions will not dramatically change each year on account of late-filed revisions, filers must comply with the deadlines we have established for filing and revising FCC Forms 499.
As a public service, we remind readers: Corrections to the quarterly estimates (499-Q) are due within 45 days of the due date. Revisions that reduce USF liability for a year (499-A) are due within one year of the April 1 499-A filing date.