FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau Clarifies Application of System Integrator Exception for USF Contributor Form 499-A

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The Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB, Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an Order remanding Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) decisions assessing late fees and penalties on Gtek Computers and Wireless L.L.C. (Gtek) and NextMetro, LLC d/b/a BroadAspect (BroadAspect) for late Form 499-A universal service fund (USF) contributor filings.  Both companies were obligated to make Form 499-A filings as providers of interconnected voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services.  WCB concluded, however, that the Form 499-A instructions in effect before 2022 were confusing and could reasonably be read to say incorrectly that system integrators were exempt from filing in such circumstances.  Accordingly, the Bureau conditionally waived late filing fees and penalties if Gtek and BroadAspect can demonstrate to USAC that they qualified for the system integrator exemption.  The Bureau also stated that 2022 Form 499-A Instructions have been updated to clarify that systems integrators exempt from a USF contribution obligation nonetheless may have an obligation to file Form 499-A if they have an obligation to contribute to other support mechanisms. 

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