USF Tracker - September 2023
- On September 1, 2023, the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) issued an Order (DA 23-805) waiving certain E-Rate, Emergency Connectivity Fund, Rural Health Care, Lifeline, Affordable Connectivity Program, and High-Cost rules for areas affected by Hurricane Idalia, which struck Florida’s Gulf Coast on August 30, 2023.
Lifeline / Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
- On September 29, 2023, the WCB announced in a Public Notice (DA 23-918) additional measures relating to non-usage requirements for providers receiving reimbursement for households fully-subsidized by the ACP, including directing the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to strengthen the monitoring of claims and de-enrollment rates of ACP providers and increase the frequency and scope of its ongoing non-usage reviews.
- On September 28, 2023, the FCC announced in a News Release that an unnamed ACP provider voluntarily repaid $49.4 million that it improperly claimed between June 2021 and July 2022. Ninety-percent of the improper claims disclosed by the provider were related to low-income households that were not using the service as required by FCC program rules.
- On September 27, 2023, USAC released its September Lifeline Newsletter.
- On September 6, 2023, the FCC announced in a Public Notice (DA 23-815) over $1.2 million awarded in the second round of awards in the ACP Outreach Grant program. The award is the final funding allocations for the Tribal Competitive Outreach Program (TCOP) Round 2.
- On August 11, 2023, the WCB announced in a Public Notice (DA 23-683) the dates for the ACP Transparency Data Collection, establishing a submission deadline of November 9, 2023, based on a snapshot date of August 1, 2023. Providers can begin submitting data on September 8, 2023.
High Cost Fund Programs
- On September 22, 2023, the FCC released a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) (FCC 23-74) seeking comment on implementation of the 5G Fund for Rural America (5G Fund). Comments are due by October 23, 2023; Reply Comments are due by November 21, 2023.
- On September 21, 2023, the WCB released corrected Enhanced Alternative Connect America Cost Model (Enhanced A-CAM) support offers for 82 companies in a Public Notice (DA 23-835). The WCB originally extended Enhanced A-CAM offers on August 31, 2023. The Public Notice provides two corrections: some locations where competitors provide 100/20 Mbps or faster service were not identified as “competitor-served” and 10,354 locations where an ILEC provides 100/20 Mbps or faster that were also subject to an enforceable commitment to be served by a competitor were identified as “competitor-only served,” rather than “ILEC and competitor served.”
- On September 14, 2023, USAC announced a webinar on avoiding common audit findings will take place on October 26, 2023 at 3:00 PM ET.
- On September 7, 2023, the WCB released a Public Notice (DA 23-810) seeking comment on the NECA 2024 Modification Of The Average Schedule Company Universal Service High Cost Loop Support Formula. The proposed formula would take effect on January 1, 2024, and remain in effect through December 31, 2024. Comments are due by October 10, 2023; Reply Comments are due by October 25, 2023.
- The FCC, in a Report and Order, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Notice of Inquiry (FCC 23-60), previously sought comment on how to address legacy rate-of return support mechanisms while avoiding unnecessary duplication of support in light of other available funding programs, and in the Notice of Inquiry (NOI), the FCC sought information on methods for modifying the high cost program to promote affordable and available broadband services. Comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) were due by September 18, 2023, and Reply Comments were due by October 2, 2023. Comments on the NOI are due by October 23, 2023, and Reply Comments are due by November 21, 2023.
Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)/Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF)
- On September 27, 2023, USAC announced the E-Rate system consolidation Training dates to introduce the transition from the SL Legacy invoicing systems to EPC. Sessions are available throughout October and November.
- On September 27, 2023, USAC announced the E-Rate Fall 2023 training dates or applicants and service providers that wish to learn more about the program. Sessions are available throughout October and November.
- On September 20, 2023, the FCC announced in a News Release approximately $41 million in ECF funding. The funding will support approximately 110,000 students nationwide, including students in Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington.
- On September 12, 2023, in a Public Notice (DA 23-819), the WCB sought comment on several revisions to the draft funding year 2024 eligible services list. Comments are due by October 12, 2023; Reply comments are due by October 26, 2023.
- On September 6, 2023, the FCC announced in a News Release approximately $7 million in ECF funding. The funding will support approximately 50,000 students nationwide, including students in California, Colorado, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
- The WCB previously granted a petition for a limited waiver of the ECF program’s invoice filing deadline in an Order (DA 23-669). The waiver granted an automatic, one-time extension of the invoice filing deadline to October 30, 2023.
- The FCC previously released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 23-56) modifying its rules to allow Tribal college and university libraries to apply for and receive E-Rate support, provided they are also serving as a public library in their community, and adopting several other changes to simplify and improve the E-Rate application process for Tribal library and other applicants. In the FNPRM, the Commission seeks comments on other potential ways to streamline and simplify the program for all participants. Comments on the FNPRM were due by September 25, 2023, and Reply Comments are due by October 23, 2023.
Rural Health Care
- On September 28, 2023, USAC reminded applicants and service providers in the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) and the Telecommunications (Telecom) programs to submit the FCC Form 463 by October 28, 2023. See here for additional details.
- On September 7, 2023, USAC issued its RHC Program September Newsletter.