What is the Universal Service Fund?
And Who Must Contribute?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires
certain carriers, including wireline, wireless and now
VOIP to contribute to a fund that is used to subsidize
the construction of telephone and broadband services
in rural communities and for schools and libraries.
This fund is called the Universal Service Fund. The
carriers contribute to the fund by paying a mandatory
surcharge on revenues and are allowed to pass that surcharge
on to their customers. The surcharge has historically
been about 15% of gross domestic interstate revenues,
and international revenues in some circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
How and when do I pay the USF surcharge?
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
administers the Universal Service Fund. Carriers are
required to file a partial form 499A to register with
USAC. Then carriers must file a 499Q every quarter to
estimate revenues, and a 499A every year to true-up
to actual revenues. Bills are sent by USAC based on
the 499Q and 499A filings.
Do I need a lawyer to file the 499A?
The attorneys at Thomas Lynch & Associates are familiar with
the rules and regulations that govern the 499A and 499Q
filings and can advise you as to how revenue should
be classified. This is particularly important for prepaid,
calling card and VOIP carriers. Also, for some international
carriers, or carriers with limited revenue related to
the Universal Service Fund requirements, we can obtain
a waiver of certain filing requirements or help to eliminate
the USF surcharge completely. It is not expensive to
have us review your filing and process it with USAC,
and it may save you much money in the long run.
I provide Voice over IP services (VOIP), do I need
to file the 499A with USAC?
On June 21, 2006, the FCC decided that VOIP providers
that are interconnected to the public switched telephone
network must contribute to the Universal Service Fund.
And recenlty, the FCC decided that non-interconnected
VOIP providers must also contribute to the USF. How
you report your revenue, however, depends on your mix
of intrastate, interstate and international traffic.
By using the FCC's safe harbor rule, and the Commission's
order permitting traffic studies, we can help you minimize
the amount of revenue subject to the Universal Service
Fund surcharge and the four other surcharges assessed
with the 499A.
Do I need to cancel my 499A Registration if I'm
no longer providing services?
Click here for more information.