Latest News from USAC/SLD Aug. 5, 2011

TIP OF THE WEEK: If you are submitting a service substitution, do not include a Form 500 to reduce your commitment. USAC will calculate the appropriate reduction – if any – based on the information you provided and process that reduction if your request is approved.

Commitments for Funding Years 2011, 2010, and 2009

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 8 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 9. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of August 5, FY2011 commitments total over $638 million.

Funding Year 2010. USAC will release FY2010 Wave 61 FCDLs August 10. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 81% and above and denials at 79% and below. As of August 5, FY2010 commitments total over $2.59 billion.

Funding Year 2009. USAC will release FY2009 Wave 90 FCDLs August 8. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 requests at 77% and above and denials at 76% and below. As of August 5, FY2009 commitments total over $2.86 billion.

On the day the FCDLs are mailed, you can check to see if you have a commitment by using USAC’s Automated Search of Commitments tool.

Fall Applicant Training Update

Registration for the training sessions in Washington DC, Newark NJ, and Los Angeles CA has closed. We have admitted everyone from the waiting lists that we can reasonably accommodate at each of these three sessions. Please note that the other five sessions still have some space available, and we will continue to work cancellations for these sessions as we receive them.

If you have registered for a session and not yet reserved your hotel room, be sure to click on the link for the session you will attend and follow the instructions to reserve a room. You can continue to send questions and cancellations to USAC Training.

SERVICE PROVIDERS: How to Update Information on Form 498

Service providers certify a Form 498 to receive a Service Provider Information Number (SPIN) when they begin to participate in one or more of the four Universal Service Fund (USF) programs: High Cost, Low Income, Rural Health Care, and Schools and Libraries. However, this form also allows service providers to update their information when it changes or to provide new information when it is required.

Here are some tips for updating your Form 498:

File online.

The first time you file Form 498, USAC will send a UserID and Password to the General Contact and Company Officer on the form, which they can use to log in to USAC’s E-File System. (Note: if you filed your first Form 498 before October 2005 and have never filed an update, you do not have online access and will have to file on paper.) The E-File System gives you access to a number of useful tools, and also provides a mechanism to easily file updates to Form 498 online.

The online system not only guides you through the process, but will compare certain information and let you know if your entries are inconsistent. For example, the system will compare:

  • Your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and your 499 Filer ID – if you have one – and let you know if there is a mismatch or populate the Filer ID if you have forgotten to do so.
  • Your bank routing number and the list of valid bank routing numbers from the Federal Reserve, and let you know if the number you provided does not appear on the list.

Note that your General Contact (Block 2 of Form 498) can submit but not certify changes to the form. The Company Officer (Block 15) will receive an email notification that changes have been submitted and are ready for certification. The form changes are not complete until the Company Officer has certified them.

Remember too that forms filed online are posted the same day. Forms filed on paper take much longer to process (see below).

Be prepared to provide all required information.

If you have not updated your Form 498 recently, you may notice some required fields that are new to you. Here are a few examples:

  • A Dun and Bradstreet (D&B D-U-N-S or DUNS) Number, which is an industry standard for keeping track of the world’s businesses. If you don’t already have one, you can request a DUNS number or a DUNS number for government purposes for free.
  • Electronic banking information for other USF programs. If you provided information for one or more of the other USF programs on your previous Form 498, you will be required to complete banking information for those programs even if you no longer participate (or never participated) in them.
  • Study Area Codes (SACs). If you participate in the High Cost and/or Low Income programs, these codes are necessary to establish the appropriate relationship between them and your SPIN.

If you file on paper, use the online system to complete your paper form.

As we have discussed above, the online system provides suggestions and error messages to guide you through the completion of your form. If you are filing on paper, you can still take advantage of these helpful messages by completing the form online, printing a copy, and mailing it to USAC.

However, keep the following in mind:

  • Processing paper takes time. We ask that you allow 10 days for a paper form to be processed.
  • About half of the paper Forms 498 submitted contain errors. We cannot complete processing a paper form until all errors have been corrected. 

Monitor your email.

We use email notifications when processing your Form 498. It is your responsibility to respond quickly and accurately to any emails from USAC. For example:

  • If we find an error on your Form 498, we will send you an email telling you what the error is and how to correct it.
  • If the General Contact submits a Form 498 online, we will send an email to the Company Officer identified in our records to notify him or her that the form is ready to be certified.
  • NOTE: Keeping your Form 498 updated with the latest contact information is critical to receiving important feedback and information from USAC about your form processing and disbursements.

Call or email us if you have questions.

If you are having difficulty filing a form or you have other questions, you can:

  • Email us at any time or
  • Call us at 1-888-641-8722. We are open from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm EDT Monday through Friday; if you leave a voicemail message outside of these hours, we will call you back the next business day.