Federal Universal Service Fund

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 is currently close to 30% of gross domestic interstate revenues, and international revenues in some circumstances.  This surcharge is typically passed on to customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 for 499A every year to report annual revenues. Some carriers must also file 499Q forms each quarter to project revenue for the coming quarter.  Bills are sent by USAC based on the 499Q and 499A filings.

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, wholesale, 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.

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 recently, 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.

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 currently around 30%. 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 Thomas Lynch & Associates will contact you after receiving your submitted questionnaire. You can also contact us by phone or e-mail to begin the application process. Contact information is here.

What Our Clients Say

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Lijun Niu, President
Nucom Technology, Inc.

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IPC Network Services, Inc.