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USAC's Latest News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to Lifeline Program as they were made throughout the years.
Both verifications and certifications can be checked weekly on the Verification and Certifications page to see if USAC has received and processed their submissions. Please use the link below to navigate to that page.
The submission deadline for all eligible telecommunication carriers (ETCs) to submit their annual certification or verification results has been revised for the 2008 calendar year. Because August 31, 2008, falls on a Sunday and September 1, 2008 is observed as a federal holiday, the submission deadline for ALL certifications and verifications will be September 2, 2008. The Public Notice regarding this recent change can be found below:
The FCC has released a revised FCC Form 497 – Lifeline and Link Up Worksheet and Instructions. Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) use FCC Form 497 to seek reimbursement from the federal Universal Service Fund for providing Lifeline, Link Up and Toll Limitation Support. The revisions to the Form 497 will not result in any changes to support calculations.
Changes to Form 497 include:
Please review the revised Instructions and begin using the updated Form 497 to submit your company's Low Income support claims.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has recently approved a new version of the Annual Lifeline Certification and Verification Letter. The new document can be used for submitting both a certification or verification results, which are due each August 31. The new document can be used beginning in 2008 and in subsequent years.
Beginning in 2008, ETCs are no longer required to submit follow-up verification information. Instead, ETCs should contact consumers who do not initially respond and indicate their final designation as eligible or ineligible on the verification submission filed by August 31.
The new Annual Lifeline Certification and Verification Letter allows eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) to indicate if they have not claimed federal Low Income support for any Lifeline customers during the year.
Companies who have already submitted their 2008 certification or verification do not have to re-file using the new Annual Lifeline Certification and Verification Letter.
The Universal Service Administrative Company reminds companies that the deadline for submitting annual certifications and verification results is fast approaching. An ETC in a state with its own state-based Low Income program must submit a certification, signed by an officer of the company, to USAC by August 31, 2008, attesting that the ETC has complied with the state verification procedures. All ETCs in federal default states must submit their annual Lifeline verification survey results to USAC by August 31, 2008.
The Federal Communications Commission is still reviewing the format for the 2008 certification and verification sample letters. Regardless of when this review is complete, certifications and verification results must be submitted by August 31. Companies can reference the 2007 verification and certification sample letter format as an example of the information that must be included in for their 2008 letters.
Check USAC's Low Income Program News page to see if your verification or certification has been received.
ETCs submitting 2008 Lifeline verification survey results (federal default states) or 2008 Low Income certifications (all non-federal default states) can check here weekly to see if USAC has received and processed their submissions. Both verifications and certifications must be signed by an officer of the ETC. Check the Low Income Calendar for deadlines.
Learn more about the High Cost and Low Income program rules by attending USAC's upcoming training sessions in Chicago, Denver, and Dallas.
As part of its outreach initiative, USAC will hold a series of one-day training events for companies that participate in the High Cost and Low Income support programs. These training sessions are designed to provide guidance on High Cost and Low Income program rules, audits, and support payment calculations.
Company representatives, consultants and attorneys working with eligible telecommunications carriers
Midwest Training – Chicago, IL
July 22, 2008
West Training – Denver, CO
September 10, 2008
South Central Training – Dallas, TX
November 19, 2008
More details regarding training registration and hotel accommodations will be available within the coming weeks. Please continue to check our website for more information.
Morning (8:30 a.m until 12:00 p.m.)
Afternoon (1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.)
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is requiring all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that receive federal universal service funds to provide information about the television broadcasting transition from analog to digital service (the "DTV Transition") to their Lifeline and Link Up customers. See FCC 08-56 released March 3, 2008.
The FCC released a reconsideration order (FCC 08-119) April 23 that expanded its rules regarding the method in which ETCs must notify their Lifeline and Link Up customers of the February 2009 DTV transition. ETCs are now permitted to mail customers monthly stand-alone outreach materials (brochures, postcards, etc.) instead of including the notice as a monthly bill insert. The language that must be included on the mailer has not changed.
ETCs are still required to include DTV transition information on all Lifeline and Link Up outreach materials. These revised rules will be effective May 30, 2008. However, carriers may still use stand-alone mailers for the April 30 deadline.
For more information on these requirements, please see USAC's March 19 DTV Important Notice.
Each year, USAC staff completes a study of participation rates in the Lifeline program in each state. The study uses United States Census data to determine the number of households in the United States. The study compares the eligibility criteria used by each state against government and other publicly available data to determine the number of households eligible under each program. In addition, because many states, including those that use the federal default criteria, include income as a criterion, the study uses the Poverty Guidelines to determine the number of households eligible based on income in these states. The study relies on data published for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Food Stamps to calculate an average number (54%) of households that are receiving assistance through more than one program. This amount was subtracted from the total number of eligible households in states that included multiple programs in their eligibility criteria. The study then compares the number of eligible households in each state against USAC's data on Lifeline participation to calculate an estimated participation rate for each state.
2006 Lifeline Participation Rate Data
2005 Lifeline Participation Rate Data
On March 28, 2008, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice announcing the effective date for the new rule requiring ETCs to notify Lifeline customers about the upcoming transition to digital television is March 31, 2008. Accordingly, as of March 31, 2008, ETCs must begin using bill inserts or language on a monthly bill to notify their Lifeline and Link Up customers about the DTV transition. For more information please see the March 19 DTV Important Notice.
Learn more about the High Cost and Low Income program rules by attending USAC's upcoming training session.
As part of its outreach initiative, USAC will hold a series of one-day training events for companies that participate in the High Cost and Low Income support programs. These training sessions are designed to provide guidance on High Cost and Low Income program rules, audits and support payment calculations. Company representatives, consultants and attorneys working with eligible telecommunications carriers are invited to attend.
The first High Cost and Low Income Training Session will be held on Thursday, May 8 at USAC's headquarters in Washington, DC. Additional sessions will be held later in 2008 in Chicago, Denver and Dallas.
There is no charge for attending the High Cost and Low Income Training Session. For more information and registration materials please see the Training Events page.
Sample Agenda for May 8 Training Session
Morning (9:00 a.m until 12:00 p.m.)
High Cost and Low Income Program overviews
Understanding the Process of Filing Certifications, Verifications and Line Counts
Disbursement Calculation and Payment Adjustments
Afternoon (1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.)
What to Expect from Audits and Site Visits
Best Practices in Advertising Supported Services
Demonstration of the New High Cost FCC Form 525 On-line Filing
On March 3, 2008, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Report and Order requiring all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that receive federal universal service funds to provide information about the television broadcasting transition from analog to digital service (the "DTV Transition") to their Lifeline and Link Up customers. The notification requirement will go into effect 30 days after the FCC's Order is published in the Federal Register, and will remain in effect through March 2009.
ETCs must use bill inserts or language on a monthly bill to notify their Lifeline and Link Up customers about DTV Transition. The FCC's rules mandate that each DTV Transition notice convey at least the following information:
"After February 17, 2009, a television receiver with only an analog broadcast tuner will require a converter box to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the Nation's transition to digital broadcasting. Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products."
"Information about the DTV transition is available from www.DTV.gov and from www.dtv2009.gov or 1-888-DTV-2009 for information about subsidized coupons for digital-to-analog converter boxes."
The FCC's rules also require that DTV Transition notices must be:
ETCs must also provide information on the DTV Transition in conjunction with any publicity campaign conducted to promote Lifeline and Link Up.
These requirements are set out in the Code of Federal Regulations at 47 C.F.R. 54.418. Please contact the FCC for additional information.
On January 23, 2008 the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released the 2008 Federal Poverty Guidelines in the Federal Register, 73 Fed. Reg. 3971-3972 (January 23, 2008). ETCs in federal default states, ETCs with customers residing on federally recognized tribal lands, and ETCs in non-federal defaults states that use total household income as a criterion for Lifeline and Link Up should update any materials containing the federal poverty guidelines.
USAC has updated all pages on www.lifelinesupport.org to reflect these changes. USAC also posts the federal poverty guidelines at 100%, 125%, 135%, 150%, and 175% because some states have an income-based eligibility criterion at one of these levels Please contact USAC's Low Income Team via e-mail with any questions.
March 31, 2008 is the last day to file FCC Form 497, new or revised, for any month in 2006.
USAC's administrative window for submitting FCC Form 497 will close March 31, 2008, for all months prior to January 2007. This applies to submission of data on FCC Form 497, including original (first-time) submissions and revisions of previously submitted data. Therefore, we would like to remind all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) to submit to USAC any FCC Form 497s for any month in 2006 prior to March 31, 2008. USAC's administrative window for submitting data for the year 2005 and all prior years is currently closed.
FCC Form 497 is available on USAC's web site. You may submit FCC Form 497 via e-mail or via fax to 866-873-4665. Signed e-mailed copies can be sent in Excel or Adobe format. You may also mail FCC Form 497 to the following address:
USAC - Low Income Program
444 Hoes Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Should you have further questions, please contact the Low Income Customer Service Center at 866-873(USF)-4727.