By: Kara Proper
The Universal Service Administrative Co., aka USAC, world is ever-changing, growing, and updating. Each year, the program implements new changes and updates, some of which are to help the end user (us), and some of which help USAC representatives. COVID-19 has changed some things within USAC, such as granting relief measures and deadline extensions, but USAC has also implemented some big changes for FY2021.
The biggest changes for FY21 include filing window dates, and two new tools: A Rates Database for Telecom Program applicants and Rurality Tiers for Telecom Program support. FY2021 will run much like previous years July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022. New this year, applicants can submit FCC Forms 461 and 465 beginning on July 1, 2020. This is much earlier than in previous years, and helpful in trying to get a head start on forms for the next filing period. The updated filing window for FCC Forms 462 and 466 is January 4, 2021 – April 1, 2021, which again is earlier than in prior years.
Within the Telecom Program, applicants were able to submit regulated urban and rural rates as it relates to the services being submitted in the past. Beginning FY21, there will be a rates database for applications. The rural and urban rates used to calculate the amount of eligible support for an HCP site location will be the median of available rates as identified in the Rates Database. Applicants will need to use the median rural and urban rates from the Rates Database for the requested telecommunications services that are being submitted for funding. Though this will directly impact rates in some areas, it will be helpful for everyone to have a regulated database system.
The Rurality Tier Search Tool is also new as it relates to the Rate Database. The new tool is used to calculate the rural rate for determining the amount of support for eligible telecommunications services in the Telecom Program. However, the Rurality Tier Search Tool will also be used to determine the factor of prioritization of funding in the event that eligible funding requests exceed the amount of available funding for that particular year. The tier structure is based on geographical area along with degree of medical service available in the healthcare provider’s area. The more rural and less medical services available in the HCP’s area, the higher the priority will be for funding. This new tool could potentially greatly impact funding in certain geographical areas moving forward.
To learn more about how Proper Connections can help with your USAC needs, visit https://www.proper-connections.com/our-services/usac-consulting-services/.