Universal service has been defined by Congress as an evolving level of telecommunications services . . . taking into account advances in telecommunications and information technologies and services. 47 U.S.C. 254(c). Universal service support generally is distributed only to eligible telecommunications carriers and must be used only for the provision, maintenance, and upgrading of facilities and services for which the support is intended. 47 U.S.C. 254(e). In addition, policies for the advancement and preservation of universal service must be based on certain principles established by Congress. See 47 U.S.C. 254(b). Consistent with these statutory provisions, the FCC has established the Universal Service Fund, which disburses support for the provision of telecommunications services, as well as other services and facilities (including broadband) for high-cost areas, schools and libraries, rural health care providers, and low-income consumers.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Federal Communications Commission (Fcc)
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
C - Direct Payments For Specified Use
Program Accomplishments
Not applicable.
The FCC established the Universal Service Fund (USF) pursuant to section 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, which requires the preservation and advancement of universal service to be based on certain principles, including access to telecommunications and advanced services for all consumers at just, reasonable and affordable rates. The USF currently consists of four programs that focus on increasing such access for consumers living in high-cost areas, low-income consumers, schools and libraries, and rural health care providers., Title COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934, AS AMENDED, Part 2, Section 254
47 U.S.C. 254
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Applicants must be an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC). Wireless and wireline carriers that are ETCs and that comply with requirements established by the FCC for the High Cost Program.
Beneficiary Eligibility
Beneficiaries are broadband and voice customers located in high cost areas. The USF Administrator maintains the Connect America Fund Map (https://data.usac.org/publicreports/caf-map/) which illustrates whether a location is in an eligible area or not, as well as reported deployed locations.
Documentation varies depending on the type of program
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Carriers are required to have an eligible telecommunication carrier designation (ETC) awarded either by the state or, if the carrier is outside of state jurisdiction, the FCC. There are other certifications and forms carriers must submit to receive support from certain mechanisms. In other cases, the FCC authorizes or provides notice of carrier support through High Cost Program funds via public notice. Given the complexity of the High Cost program, carriers provide various forms and certifications to receive the funding for which they "apply".
Award Procedure
The FCC defines the award procedure for each fund.
THE APPLICATION DEADLINE VARIES DEPENDING ON THE TYPE OF PROGRAM. Contact the headquarters or regional location, as appropriate for application deadlines
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Not applicable.
From 30 to 60 days. Applicants have 60 days to appeal a decision. 47 CFR ? 54.719.
Not applicable.
How are proposals selected?
The FCC defines criteria based on the goals of the specific fund.
How may assistance be used?
Eligible Telecommunications Carriers are allowed to use the assistance to deploy and maintain broadband and voice networks serving high cost areas.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Not applicable.
Participants are subject to random and risk-based compliance audits and other investigations to ensure compliance with program rules and orders.
All ETCs must retain records for 10 years. 47 CFR 54.320(b).
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
There are various mechanisms within the High Cost Program and availability is dependent on the support term of each program.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
Federal Communications Commission, Wireline Competition Bureau
Headquarters Office
445 12TH ST SW
Phone: 2024187400
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Direct Payments for Specified Use) FY 22$7,189,800,000.00; FY 23 est $3,110,700,000.00; FY 24 est $2,236,600,000.00; FY 19$9,844,951,110.00; FY 20 est $1,990,323,190.00; FY 21 est $8,020,000,000.00; FY 18$1,980,000,000.00; -
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Not applicable/available.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
47 CFR Part 54, as well as various FCC orders and instructions on forms for the program.
Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2018 Funding deployment and maintenance of broadband and voice networks to close the digital divide in high cost areas
Fiscal Year 2019 Funding deployment and maintenance of broadband and voice networks to close the digital divide in high cost areas
Fiscal Year 2020 Funding deployment and maintenance of broadband and voice networks to close the digital divide in high cost areas
Fiscal Year 2021 Funding deployment and maintenance of broadband and voice networks to close the digital divide in high cost areas


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