Telecom Alert: FCC NOI on Future of USF; FCC Settles 911 Rule Compliance Investigations; 911 Fee Distribution Petitions for Reconsideration; USF Contribution Factor [Vol. XVIII, Issue 51]
FCC NOI on Future of USF
The FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry last week seeking comment on issues related to the future of the Universal Service Fund (“USF”) in light of the broadband investments in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“Infrastructure Act” or the “Act”) (Vol. XVIII, Issue 45), which allocates $65 billion to support various types of broadband initiatives. The Act directs the FCC to commence a proceeding to evaluate the implications of the Act on how the Commission should achieve its universal service goals for broadband and submit a report to Congress on its findings. The Notice of Inquiry seeks comment on the effect of the Act and recommended courses of action the FCC and Congress might take to further promote its goals.
FCC Settles 911 Rule Compliance Investigations
Last week, the FCC announced that it settled investigations into four communications providers compliance with the Commission’s 911 reliability rules during network outages that occurred last year. AT&T will pay a total of $460,000, CenturyLink will pay $3.8 million, Intrado will pay $1.75 million and Verizon will pay $274,000 in settlement fees to resolve the investigations. All of the companies are required to implement a compliance plan and submit annual reports to the Commission over the next three years.
911 Fee Distribution Petitions for Reconsideration
Last week, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a Public Notice soliciting comment on two petitions for reconsideration filed in response to its 911 fee diversion order (Vol. XVIII, Issue 26). The city and county of Denver and 15 other 911 authorities ask the Commission to include a safe harbor for states with laws that comply with the FCC’s final rules on the issue. The Boulder Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority (“BRETSA”) argues that taxing jurisdictions cannot be held responsible for fee diversion by another taxing jurisdiction and asks the Commission to provide a grace period to comply with the new rules.
25.2% USF Contribution Factor
The FCC’s Office of Managing Director announced that the proposed universal service contribution factor for the first quarter of 2022 will be 25.2%, absent action from the Commission. The 25.2% assessment on end-user interstate and international telecom service revenues is projected to meet the 1st quarter’s revenue requirement of $1.840 billion for the four original universal service programs (E-Rate, rural health care, high-cost, and Lifeline) and the Connected Care Pilot Program.