The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has issued an Order suspending on its own motion the Commission’s rule allowing for multi-year commitments from the Rural Health Care universal service support mechanism (RHC Program) for the 2018 funding year (FY). According to the Commission, this action was taken in order to ensure all FY 2018 requests made through the RHC Program would be fully funded and would not suffer pro-rata reductions.
Pursuant to the Commission’s Order, all FY 2018 requests for multi-year funding commitments will be processed as requests for a single year of funding. However, to mitigate concerns about the inability to lock in funding for future years, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has been instructed to designate the underlying contracts associated with multi-year funding requests as “evergreen,” such that applicants who have submitted multi-year requests for FY 2018 will not have to re-complete the competitive bidding process when subsequently filing for support pursuant to these contracts. Additionally, the Commission has directed USAC to extend the FY 2019 application filing window deadline from May 31 to June 30, so as to ensure applicants have sufficient time to update their FY 2019 funding requests to account for the Order’s rule change.