Written by attorney Jonathan Soukias Marashlian

Federal Regulatory Fees Applicable to Telecommunications Services and Interconnected VoIP

Five federally-mandated programs are funded on the basis of revenues of the U.S. telecommunications industry. These programs include the universal service fund ("USF"), interstate Telecommunications Relay Services ("TRS"), North American Numbering Plan ("NANP"), Local Number Portability ("LNP"), and common carrier regulatory fees. Contributions to these programs are primarily based on information supplied on the FCC Form 499s.

Universal Service -- Universal service requirements include several mechanisms that help ensure that all Americans have access to affordable telecommunications service. In general, USF contributions are based on interstate, end-user (i.e., retail) telecommunications revenues. Carriers are not required to contribute to the universal service support mechanisms for a given year if their contribution for that year is less than $10,000 ("de minimis"). In addition, carriers who receive a substantial portion of their annual revenue from international sources may be eligible for the Limited International Revenue Exemption ("LIRE").

TRS Fund -- Telecommunications Relay Service ("TRS") is a telephone service that allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities to place and receive telephone calls. FCC rules provide that telecommunications providers must contribute to the TRS fund on the basis of their end-user telecommunications revenues, as reported on the annual FCC Form 499-A.

NANPA -- The North American Numbering Plan ("NANP") is the numbering plan for the Public Switched Telephone Network ("PSTN") for the United States and its territories, Canada, and participating Caribbean countries. FCC rules provide that contributions to NANPA shall be the product of the carrier's end-user telecommunications revenues for the prior calendar year as reported on the annual FCC Form 499-A and the contribution factor.

Local Number Portability -- LNP is the ability of a phone service customer in North America to retain their local phone number and access to advanced calling features when they switch their local phone service to another local service provider. The LNPA contribution factor is carrier- and region-specific, and is determined on a month-to-month basis. In general, contributions to the LNPA are based on a carrier's gross end-user telecommunications services revenues, as reported on the annual FCC Form 499-A.

FCC Regulatory Fee -- Pursuant to Section 9 of the Communications Act, all Interstate telecommunications service providers ("ITSPs") must pay annual fees to the FCC. ITSPs include entities that identify themselves as local exchange carriers, interexchange carriers, resellers, interconnected VoIP Providers, payphone service providers, prepaid calling card providers, and toll resellers. The ITSP regulatory fee is based on billed interstate and international end-user revenues, as reported on the annual FCC Form 499-A.

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