COMPTEL: Navigate a Changing USF

The FCC now requires VoIP providers to contribute to the USF. The agency also is more stringent about fining carriers that file annual and quarterly reports late. In other words, changes are afoot and providers of all stripes need to understand how to abide by all processes so they avoid late fees and audits. This morning’s session, “Navigating the Universal Service Fund,” will give attendees a rundown of what they need to know.

“This panel explores the nuts and bolts of an effective USF compliance strategy that directly contributes to company profitability, said Andrew Isar, president of regulatory consultancy Miller Isar Inc., who will lead the panel. He’ll also show providers how to complete the FCC’s Form 499 and answer questions about the filing process.

Three other panelists are scheduled to address different aspects of the USF as well.

Andrew Klein, managing attorney for Klein Law Group PLLC, will talk about the FCC’s new late-filer penalties. Steve Augustino, a partner at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, will offer insight on resolving issues with the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC), administrator of the USF. Finally, Fred Thebold with USAC, will discuss the organization’s review and audit process. Participants further will address the special guidelines for VoIP providers and go over computing contributions.

The complex USF is an integral part of service provider business strategy, particularly now as the USF funding process has taken on increasing regulatory scrutiny in a dynamic communications market,” Isar said.

The USF could be due for other changes if commissioners implement recent recommendations for reform. An advisory board issued its suggestions last November, although it’s unknown when any of them might take effect. The FCC essentially goes into hibernation during an election year, especially during a lame-duck presidency. Nonetheless, an FCC advisory board last November came forward with a number of ideas for USF reform. The biggest changes would affect high-cost subsidies, put money toward broadband buildouts and, overall, seek to end duplicate funding.

All of this would be done by breaking the USF into three new units the Mobility, Broadband and Provider of Last Resort (POLR) funds. Carriers generally would get to collect money under just one of these umbrellas.

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
Klein Law Group PLLC
Miller Isar Inc.

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