USF Tracker - November 2023

Lifeline / Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

  • On November 29, 2023, the FCC announced in a News Release a settlement of alleged Lifeline and Emergency Broadband Benefit program rule violations with TracFone Wireless. As part of the settlement, TracFone Wireless agreed to compliance measures and to pay $17,487,000 as a civil penalty and $6,013,000 to resolve a 2020 Notice of Apparent Liability for other alleged Lifeline violations.
  • On November 30, 2023, Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) announced the start of the reverification process for select Lifeline subscribers who had not yet completed the recertification process. Previously, in October 2023, USAC conducted automated database checks and created new reverification applications for Lifeline subscribers due for reverification. In addition, beginning December 4, 2023, service providers may start referencing the Reverification Subscriber Status Report” in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) to identify subscribers undergoing the reverification process.
  • On November 9, 2023, the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) issued a Public Notice (DA 23-1066) extending the deadline to November 30, 2023 for the ACP Transparency Data Collection submission. The original deadline was November 9, 2023.
  • On November 1, 2023, in a Public Notice (DA 23-1034), the WCB announced that ACP providers may begin submitting applications on January 17, 2024, to seek approval to offer an enhanced monthly discount of up-to-$75 for broadband services to ACP-enrolled households in high-cost areas. The Public Notice also provided information on the application process.

High Cost Fund Programs

  • On November 28, 2023, in an Order on Review (FCC 23-102), the FCC granted waiver requests for Bloomingdale Telephone Company, State Telephone Company, and ComSouth Corporation, permitting corrections to errors in 2018 and 2019 annual report submissions which resulted in reductions in Connect America Fund program support.
  • In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Report and Order (FCC 23-87), the FCC previously sought comments on how the universal service high-cost support program can continue funding fixed and mobile broadband services in Alaska. Specifically, the NPRM initiates a rulemaking to understand all the technological and broadband availability and funding changes that have occurred in Alaska since the inception of the Alaska Plan and ACS Order in 2016, which adopted Connect America Fund Phase II obligations in Alaska. In the Report and Order, the FCC amends and streamlines existing rules and requirements governing the management and administration of the high-cost program. Comments are due on January 16, 2024; Reply Comments are due on February 15, 2024.

Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)/Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF)

  • On November 13, 2023, the FCC proposed in a NPRM (FCC 23-92) the creation of a Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program to collect data on the most effective way USF support can be used for cybersecurity and advanced firewall services to protect K12 schools and libraries against cyber threats and attacks and to the E-Rate program’s goal of promoting basic connectivity. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register; Reply Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
  • On November 9, 2023, in an Order (DA 23-1070), the WCB extended, sua sponte, the filing deadline for comments regarding the addition of services and equipment needed to use Wi-Fi service on school buses to the funding year (FY) 2024 eligible services list for the E-Rate program until November 30, 2023. Previously, in a Public Notice (FCC 23-84), the FCC sought comments by November 24, 2023.
  • On November 8, 2023, the FCC proposed in a NPRM (FCC 23-91) to permit eligible schools and libraries to receive E-Rate support for Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless Internet services that can be used off-premises, and sought comment on the applicability of the Children‘s Internet Protection Act requirements and the off-premises use of E-Rate-supported hotspots and services. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register; Reply Comments are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.
  • On November 1, 2023, the FCC announced in a News Release over $5 million in ECF funding. The funding will support approximately 14,000 students nationwide, including students in California, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.
  • On November 1, 2023, in the School and Libraries docket, CC Docket No. 02-6, in the ECF docket, WC Docket No. 21-93, the WCB issued a Public Notice (DA 23-1007) announcing the grant, dismissal, or denial of various requests (such as requests for review, requests for waivers, and petition for reconsideration) related to actions taken by USAC.

Rural Health Care (RHC)

  • On November 2, 2023, USAC released its RHC Program News November Newsletter.
  • USAC previously announced that applicants can draft funding requests in RHC Connect beginning November 1, 2023. Requests for the FY2024 opens on December 1, 2023, and closes on April 1, 2024.