Category Archives: Universal Service Fund

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FCC Chairman Proposes Another Hurricane-Related Exception to the FCC’s Rules

A notable trend under Chairman Pai’s leadership has become the FCC’s proactive willingness to modify its rules in light of recent natural disasters.  As discussed in our recent podcast, the FCC suspended or waived a number of regulatory requirements over the past few weeks for carriers affected by recent major weather events, including rules related … Continue Reading

Proposed Fourth Quarter 2017 Universal Service Fund Contribution Factor Jumps – Poised to Hit New High

On September 12, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission’s (Commission) Office of the Managing Director (OMD) released a Public Notice proposing a universal service fund (USF) contribution factor of 18.8% for fourth quarter 2017.  This proposed contribution factor would be the highest rate since the USF program’s inception and likely reflects the impact of the declining … Continue Reading

August 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: Commission Sets Reverse Auction Procedures for CAF Phase II Auction

At its August Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a Public Notice (“Notice”) that addresses the procedures for its upcoming Connect America Fund (“CAF”) Phase II auction (“Auction” or “Auction 903”), scheduled to begin in 2018. Auction 903 will be a competitive reverse auction wherein service providers will compete for up to $1.98 billion … Continue Reading

New Podcast: Pai the Enforcer

When Ajit Pai was a Commissioner, he was a frequent critic of the FCC’s enforcement practice.  Now that Chairman Pai has led the FCC for six months, his approach to enforcement is coming into better focus.  In this episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast, Kelley Drye enforcement attorneys Steve Augustino and Brad Currier discuss … Continue Reading

What to Expect at the FCC’s August 2017 Open Meeting

Below is Kelley Drye’s preview of the items under consideration at the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s or Commission’s) upcoming monthly Open Meeting, to be held on August 3, 2017. Consistent with the trend since he took over the Commission, Chairman Ajit Pai continues to schedule a large number of items.  Indeed, for the seventh month … Continue Reading

FCC Amends NAL in Rural Healthcare Proceeding, Increases Proposed Fine

In the first action of its kind, on June 7, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued an amendment to a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (“NAL”), for alleged violations of the rules governing the Universal Service Rural Health Care Program (“RHCP”). The FCC found that the fine proposed in the initial … Continue Reading

Commission Resolves Long-Pending Stratos and Morris USF Contribution-Related Petitions

In orders issued last week, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) continues what appears to be a trend of resolving long-pending universal service fund (USF) contribution issues.  The Orders, released May 23, 2017 and May 24, 2017 by the Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau), ruled on petitions filed by, respectively, Morris Communications, Inc. (Morris) and Stratos … Continue Reading

Split FCC Proposes Rural “Rate Floor” Reform

On May 18, 2017, at its May Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order on a two-one vote, seeking comment on whether it should reform the so-called rural “rate floor” on basic voice service or eliminate it entirely.  The rural rate floor rule requires carriers receiving Connect … Continue Reading

FCC Eases Restrictions on Broadband Deployment Support for Rate-of-Return Carriers; Faces Challenges to Connect America Fund Phase II Auction

As part of its continued focus on accelerating broadband deployment, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eased restrictions on its universal service support for deployments by rate-of-return carriers in rural and other high-cost areas.  In a unanimous Order on Reconsideration issued at its April meeting, the FCC found that the restrictions drove providers to exclude high-cost … Continue Reading

Pai Directs USAC to Improve E-Rate Productivity Center

Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) Chairman Ajit Pai sent a letter this week to Chris Henderson, CEO of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) expressing concern about flaws in USAC’s administration of the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC), the online application and account portal. In the letter, Chairman Pai noted his support for E-Rate as … Continue Reading

Wireline Competition Bureau Explains No Presumption of Intrastate or Interstate Jurisdiction for Private Lines; Carriers Must Conduct Good Faith Inquiry Into Nature of Traffic Carried

By an Order issued late last week, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) provided important insight regarding determining the jurisdictional classification of private line revenues.  In ruling on long-pending petitions for reconsideration of Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) audit findings regarding the classification of private line revenues, the Bureau explained that the longstanding Ten Percent Rule … Continue Reading

Unpacking the FCC’s Open Meeting: Universal Service Funds, Open Internet and More – February 2017

In February, Chairman Ajit Pai presided over his first major open meeting since becoming chairman, at which the Commission adopted items furthering the FCC’s reverse auctions for Universal Service funding and narrowing the applicability of the Open Internet Order’s transparency requirements.  In this episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast, Steve Augustino, Avonne Bell, and … Continue Reading

Commission Adopts Long-Awaited Mobility Fund Phase II

On February 23, 2017, during the second open meeting under Chairman Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) unanimously approved an order launching the long-awaited second phase of the Mobility Fund.  The Mobility Fund offers financial support to service providers to preserve and extend mobile broadband and voice services in unserved and … Continue Reading

FCC Approves Bidding Weight Rules for Connect America Fund Phase II Auction

At the February 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) approved an Order finalizing bidding rules for the upcoming Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II auction where service providers will compete for up to $1.98 billion in financial support in areas where the incumbent provider declined cost-model funding. This Order is the next stage in … Continue Reading

Don’t Miss Kelley Drye’s 8th Annual USF Update Webinar on February 23, 2017 at 12 PM ET

Kelley Drye is proud to present our 8th Annual Update on federal Universal Service Fund (USF) activities.  This one-of-a-kind webinar provides an in-depth discussion of trends and legal implications involving the Universal Service Fund, from contributions, to the four support funds, as well as audits and enforcement.  This educational event is intended to help attorneys … Continue Reading

Pai FCC’s First Commission-Level Vote Targets Rural Broadband Access

On January 26, 2017, in its first action under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) voted to allow the State Of NY to award up to $170 million in Connect America Fund (CAF) fuding to expand broadband access in unserved, rural portions of New York State.  These … Continue Reading

FCC Releases Third Biennial Report to Congress on Communications Accessibility for People with Disabilities

On October 7, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the third iteration of its Biennial Report to Congress on the state of communications technology accessibility for people with disabilities as required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). To inform the conclusions in the 2016 CVAA Biennial Report, the … Continue Reading

Microsoft and Partners Seek FCC Approval to Use TV White Spaces to Extend E-Rate-Supported Broadband Services to Close the Homework Gap

A potential solution to the so-called “homework gap” – otherwise known as the limited ability of low-income students in rural or underserved areas to access a broadband connection at home – is the subject of a petition submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) by an innovative public-private partnership and is now open … Continue Reading

Inside the FCC’s First Enforcement Action For Violation of the E-rate Program’s Lowest Corresponding Price Requirement

Late last month, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released its first enforcement action predicated on the “Lowest Corresponding Price” requirement of its E-rate rules. The LCP rules require a telecommunications carrier to offer schools and libraries communications services “at rates lower than that charged for similar services to other parties.”  The Commission’s Notice … Continue Reading

Client Advisory: Lifeline Modernization and Transition from Voice to Broadband

At its open meeting on March 31, 2016 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) voted along party lines (3-2) to adopt a Lifeline Modernization Order implementing significant changes to the Lifeline Universal Service Program, the most significant of which is an expansion of the program to cover broadband service. Last week, the Commission released … Continue Reading

White House Announces ConnectALL Initiative to Spur Broadband Deployment and Adoption

The Administration continues to drive efforts to spur broadband deployment across the country and to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable broadband service.  Yesterday afternoon, President Obama announced ConnectALL, an effort aimed at connecting 20 million more Americans to broadband by 2020. This announcement builds on the successes of ConnectED, the White House … Continue Reading

NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Announces a Community Connectivity Initiative Workshop, one of the Recommendations from the Broadband Opportunity Council

This month marks the one year anniversary of the Presidential Memorandum that created the Broadband Opportunity Council (Council), a federal inter-agency council, tasked with using all available and appropriate authorities to identify and address regulatory barriers to broadband deployment and adoption.  My former BroadbandUSA colleagues at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information (NTIA) … Continue Reading

Interesting FCC Enforcement Actions — February 2016 Edition

It’s no secret that one of the major stories in the last two years has been the increased activism of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) Enforcement Bureau (“Bureau”).  February 2016 was no exception in terms of the nature and level of activity.  In this blog entry, we highlight a few orders that stand out among the crowd. … Continue Reading

FCC Releases Updated 2016 Universal Service Revenue Reporting Worksheet

It’s a new year and the FCC has just released its annual update to the FCC Form 499A.  Telecommunications providers must use the 2016 Form 499A to report calendar year 2015 revenues for purposes of calculating contributions to the federal Universal Service Fund and other revenue-based contribution requirements including TRS, LNP, NANP and annual FCC … Continue Reading
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