FCC Simplifies Reporting Rules for Universal Service Recipients

The FCC is eliminating several rules that it considers duplicative or no longer needed in order to simplify reporting requirements for telecommunications carriers that receive high-cost Universal Service Fund support. The agency says its actions will reduce regulatory burdens on carriers while also protecting the program from waste, fraud and abuse.

The move comes after the Government Accountability Office said in a recent report that while it commends the FCC’s actions in 2016 to reform the related Lifeline program to help low-income families afford telephone service, more action is necessary to “address significant risks.” 

The Connect America Fund (CAF) provides carriers support to deploy and maintain fixed-location broadband and voice services in high-cost areas at rates comparable to those offered in urban areas. In a CAF Report and Order released Friday, the Commission eliminated the rule requiring detailed network outage information, since that’s already collected in its Network Outage Reporting System. CAF Carriers will no longer need to report the number of service requests they don’t fulfill nor the number of complaints they receive per 1,000 subscribers. It said the complaint information it gleans from the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is better than the information on Form 481 data.  

Finally, CAF carriers will not need to report pricing information annually, according to the FCC, which noted, “we have not made sufficient use of this pricing data to support its continued collection.” Additionally, carriers will no longer need to file duplicate copies of Form 481 with the FCC, and with states, and/or Tribal governments. The changes take effect 30 days after Federal Register publication.

July 10, 2017      

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