Universal Service Fund (USF) - Current Rate, Background, FAQs

USF CURRENT RATE - Q1 2016: 18.2%

On June 30, 2008, the Federal Communications Commission issued a ruling stating that audio conferencing fell subject to the same rules and regulations as telecommunications as it applies to the assessment fees for the Universal Service Fund (USF).

The FCC ruling applies to all conferencing services providers in the United States.

Impact on Law Conferencing Customers

Any on-demand reservationless or operated-assisted audio conference call conducted on or after October 1, 2008, from or to the United States is subject to USF fees. Included are all associated audio conferencing feature usage and applicable service fees. All invoices will have a separate line item for USF fees.

About the USF

The USF is a government administered fund to support the provision of telecommunications services in rural and high cost areas, low income consumers and to schools, libraries and healthcare facilities nationwide. All telecommunications providers contribute to the USF on an equal basis. The contribution factor changes quarterly and the current rate is listed below. In addition to USF, a few other federal fees, state USF fees and state and local taxes apply to telecommunications services.

Click here for additional information on the USF.

Frequently Asked Questions

What government agency is responsible for USF?

The United States Congress authorized the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement the Universal Service Fund. The USF is mandated by Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The USF is administered by Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

USAC was created by the FCC and is an independent, not-for-profit corporation designated as the permanent administrator of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) by the FCC pursuant to Part 54 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

USAC is not a federal government agency or department or a government controlled corporation as that term is defined in Sections 9101-02 of Title 31 of the United States Code.

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How much is the USF Fee Imposed by USAC?

The USF fee is set by the FCC quarterly and collected by USAC.

Quarter     USF Rate
1Q 2016     18.2%
4Q 2015     16.7%
3Q 2015     17.1%
2Q 2015     17.4%
1Q 2015     16.8%
4Q 2014     16.1%
3Q 2014     15.7%
2Q 2014     16.6%
1Q 2014     16.4%
4Q 2013     15.6%
3Q 2013     15.1%
2Q 2013     15.5%
1Q 2013     16.1%
4Q 2012     17.4%
3Q 2012     15.7%
2Q 2012     17.4%
1Q 2012     17.9%
4Q 2011     15.3%
3Q 2011     14.4%
2Q 2011     14.9%
1Q 2011     15.5%
4Q 2010     12.9%
3Q 2010     13.6%
2Q 2010     15.3%
1Q 2010     14.1%
4Q 2009     12.3%
3Q 2009     12.9%
2Q 2009     11.3%
1Q 2009     9.5%
4Q 2008     11.4%

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Why is Law Conferencing collecting this fee on audio calls?

A recent decision by the FCC dictates that all telecommunication service providers track all telecommunications revenue. To remain in compliance and in good standing, Law Conferencing must file forms with USAC and pay the fee assessed by the FCC on the telecommunications revenue.

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Will Law Conferencing's competitors also charge this fee on audio conferencing calls?

Yes. The June 30, 2008 FCC order clearly states that all providers of telecommunications which includes conferencing must comply with the order. The FCC has directed USAC to ensure that all conferencing service providers abide by the order.

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What states and countries are impacted by the USF?

The USF applies to services billed to all Law Conferencing customers, including both interstate and international services. All international calls between the United States and foreign countries will be subject to the USF.

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When will the USF fee be collected?

The June 30 and July 17, 2008 FCC orders require USAC to collect the USF fee from Law Conferencing beginning on October 1, 2008. The USF charge will first appear on client invoices for conference calls made on or after October 1, 2008. All Law Conferencing customers will see the USF charge on their October invoice that they will receive in early November.

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Is the USF based on where the company is headquartered?

No. The USF is based on end user revenues for calls subject to FCC jurisdiction. Federal USF fees apply to interstate telecommunications and calls between the United States and foreign countries. The FCC order clarified that conferencing is telecommunications. Therefore, if the conference involves a call from one state terminating in another state or calls between a foreign country and the United States, the USF fee will apply.

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Are all of my conferencing services subject to USF fees?

No. Web conferencing services are not subject to USF fees. Only audio conferencing services are subject to USF fees.

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What if I start a conference call from a cell phone?

Yes. The USF fee applies to all interstate telecommunications and all international telecommunications from or to the United States regardless of the device used.

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Do USF fees apply to audio calls made on VOIP?

Yes. The USF fee applies to all interstate telecommunications and all international telecommunications from or to the United States regardless of the device used.

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Will Law Conferencing issue a credit for the USF fee if a credit was issued on a call?

Yes. When a credit is issued, the applicable fees assessed on the portion subject to the credit are also credited.

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Are charitable or religious groups exempt from the USF fees similar to their exemption from certain sales tax?

In most cases USF fees apply to all end users including not-for-profit entities. Customers that verify their contributor status through the USAC web site and provide Law Conferencing with supporting documentation will not be charged USF fees.

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