What is the Universal Service Fund?
And Who Must Contribute?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires certain carriers, including wireline, wireless and now VOIP to contribute to a fund that is used to subsidize the construction of telephone and broadband services in rural communities and for schools and libraries. This fund is called the Universal Service Fund. The carriers contribute to the fund by paying a mandatory surcharge on revenues and are allowed to pass that surcharge on to their customers. The surcharge has historically been about 15% of gross domestic interstate revenues, and international revenues in some circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

How and when do I pay the USF surcharge?

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the Universal Service Fund. Carriers are required to file a partial form 499A to register with USAC. Then carriers must file a 499Q every quarter to estimate revenues, and a 499A every year to true-up to actual revenues. Bills are sent by USAC based on the 499Q and 499A filings.

Do I need a lawyer to file the 499A?

The attorneys at Thomas Lynch & Associates are familiar with the rules and regulations that govern the 499A and 499Q filings and can advise you as to how revenue should be classified. This is particularly important for prepaid, calling card and VOIP carriers. Also, for some international carriers, or carriers with limited revenue related to the Universal Service Fund requirements, we can obtain a waiver of certain filing requirements or help to eliminate the USF surcharge completely. It is not expensive to have us review your filing and process it with USAC, and it may save you much money in the long run.

I provide Voice over IP services (VOIP), do I need to file the 499A with USAC?

On June 21, 2006, the FCC decided that VOIP providers that are interconnected to the public switched telephone network must contribute to the Universal Service Fund. And recenlty, the FCC decided that non-interconnected VOIP providers must also contribute to the USF. How you report your revenue, however, depends on your mix of intrastate, interstate and international traffic. By using the FCC's safe harbor rule, and the Commission's order permitting traffic studies, we can help you minimize the amount of revenue subject to the Universal Service Fund surcharge and the four other surcharges assessed with the 499A.

Do I need to cancel my 499A Registration if I'm no longer providing services?

Click here for more information.

 

Overview of License
And How to Get Started

Who Needs to File the 499A? Wireline, wireless and VOIP providers that provide services in the United States.

What is the USF rate?
The USF rate changes quarterly and is usually over 15%. Click here for information directly from USAC.

How Do I Get Started? Click here to create an account. Then complete the 499 registration questionnaire in the online portal after you register. An attorney at Brennan Lynch LLP will contact you after receiving your submitted questionaire. You can also contact us by phone or e-mail to begin the application process. Contact information is here.

What Our Clients Say

"I thought it would take a lot longer to get the approvals. But Tom Lynch was able to obtain our international license in only a few weeks. We'll definitely call him again for our licensing needs."

Lijun Niu, President
Nucom Technology, Inc.

"Tom Lynch is prompt, professional and affordable. His in-depth knowledge of domestic regulatory issues and compliance is outstanding. We now to turn to Tom for all of our licensing needs."

Gregory Wasilewski, President
IPC Network Services, Inc.

 

 
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