FCC Rules CLECs’ USF Phase Down Could Begin as Soon as April 1

List of Affected Carriers Released

The FCC released a Public Notice on March 12 resuming the phase down of legacy universal service support for “fixed” competitive eligible telecommunications carriers (CETCs), such as CLECs. This notice follows an Order released last month that ruled that universal service support received by fixed CETCs would be phased down beginning the first day of the month following the first authorization of CAF Phase II reverse auction support nationwide. It is possible that the first authorization of CAF Phase II reverse auction support could occur before the end of this month, making April 1 the earliest date when the phase down will resume for these fixed providers.

These CETCs currently collect 60% of the frozen universal service support they received when the Transformation Order was released in 2012. This support was scheduled to be phased down to zero over five years, but the phase down was “paused” as the FCC implemented its Mobility Fund Phase II program, which will allow mobile wireless CETCs to seek funding from this new mechanism.

According to the February 2019 Order, once the phase down begins, fixed CETCs will receive support equal to 2/3 of their support for the first 12 months and 1/3 of their support for the second 12 months. After that, the support will be eliminated. The affected carriers and their current levels of support are identified in an attachment to the Public Notice.

Please note that support for mobile wireless carriers will not be impacted pursuant to the Order. That support will be phased down after the Mobility Fund Phase II funding has been authorized and will depend upon certain factors, such as whether or not areas within their service territory will be eligible for funding from the auction. However, in the Public Notice, the FCC acknowledges that some mobile wireless carriers may have been included on the list and if that is the case, they should notify the FCC to have their names removed.

Please contact John Kuykendall in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590 if you have any questions about the Order or Public Notice, or would like assistance in notifying the FCC if you are a mobile wireless carrier whose name should not be on the list.