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Assist 123, LLC

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Released: September 16, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1908

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Universal Service Contribution Methodology
)
Request for Review of a Decision of the Universal )
WC Docket No. 06-122
Service Administrative Company by Assist 123,
)
LLC
)

ORDER

Adopted: September 16, 2013


Released: September 16, 2013

By the Deputy Chief, Telecommunications Access Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau:
1.
In this Order, we address a request for review filed by Assist 123, LLC (Assist).1 Assist
seeks review and reversal of a decision of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
upholding late fees assessed for Assist's failure to timely file its quarterly Telecommunications Reporting
Worksheet (FCC Form 499-Q) in August and November 2012.2 Assist disputes USAC's conclusion that
the FCC Forms 499-Q were not submitted timely and requests that all late fees and related penalties be
vacated, or, in the alternative, that penalties be limited to the period from August 1 to November 27,
2012.3 For the reasons stated below, we deny the Petition.
2.
Background. Section 254(d) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended
(Communications Act), directs that every telecommunications carrier that provides interstate
telecommunications services shall contribute, on an equitable and nondiscriminatory basis, to the specific,
predictable, and sufficient mechanisms established by the Commission to preserve and advance universal
service.4 Pursuant to the Commission's rules, carriers and certain other providers of interstate
telecommunications are required to file FCC Form 499-Q with USAC four times a year (quarterly).5 FCC
Form 499-Q may be filed electronically, through USAC's E-file system, or manually using a paper copy
of the form. In all instances, the official version of the form approved by the Commission and the Office
of Management and Budget must be used. Pursuant to section 54.713 of the Commission's rules,


1 Request for Review of a Decision of the Universal Service Administrator by Assist 123, LLC, WC Docket No. 06-
122 (filed Mar. 13, 2013) (Petition).
2 Id.
3 Id. at 1-2. Although Assist requests that "penalties" be vacated, Assist actually appears to be appealing the
imposition of late fees based on its late filing of the FCC Forms 499-Q. For clarity, our decision today encompasses
all interest, penalties, and late fees resulting from Assist's late filing of these forms. November 27, 2012 is the first
date on which Assist attempted to submit an FCC Form 499-Q, but as discussed below, it did not use the correct
form.
4 47 U.S.C. 254(d).
5 See 47 C.F.R. 54.706, 54.711, 54.713 (requiring all telecommunications carriers providing interstate
telecommunications services, and certain other providers of interstate telecommunications, to file FCC Form 499-
Q); USAC Schedule of Filings, at http://www.usac.org/cont/499/filing-schedule.aspx (last visited September 16,
2013).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1908

contributors that fail to make full payment on or before the due date of a monthly USF assessment are
subject to late fees, penalties, and interest.6
3.
Discussion. The Petition states that Assist attempted to file the August 2012 FCC Form
499-Q before the August 1 deadline but did not receive a "notice of failure to file" from USAC until
November 20, 2012.7 However, USAC staff e-mailed Assist on August 22, 2012 to notify the company
that it needed to file the August 2012 FCC Form 499-Q because USAC had no record of receiving the
filing.8 Because Assist attempted to file electronically, it entered data into a "Data Entry Form" screen in
USAC's E-file system. In order to submit the data, Assist should have clicked the "Certify" button at the
bottom of the web page, which USAC records indicate Assist did not do.9 Apparently, Assist assumed it
was sufficient to print out a copy of the "Data Entry Form" screen. This screen, which is not the
approved FCC Form 499-Q, clearly displays the warning: "For Data Entry Purposes Only. Please Do Not
Print This Form."10
4.
On November 14, 2012, USAC received a copy of the printed Data Entry Form.11 On
November 20, 2012, USAC e-mailed Assist again to explain that the form was rejected because it was not
the correct form.12 On November 21, 2012, Assist mailed a version of FCC Form 499-Q to USAC that
reported historical revenues for the second quarter of 2011, even though the August 2012 form was
supposed to report revenues for the second quarter of 2012. Since the deadline for reporting second
quarter 2011 revenues had long expired, USAC notified Assist that this form was rejected.13 In January
2013, Assist resubmitted both the data entry form and an FCC Form 499-Q that reported revenues for the
wrong year.14 In February 2013, Assist, in its fourth attempt, finally submitted the form correctly. By
this time, the form was late. Accordingly, Assist was assessed late fees on the submission.15
5.
There were similar problems with Assist's November 2012 FCC Form 499-Q. Prior to
the filing deadline, Assist submitted a 499-Q showing revenues for 2011, not 2012.16 USAC notified
Assist that it had not filed the correct November 2012 FCC Form 499-Q, but Assist continued to submit


6 47 C.F.R. 54.713.
7 Petition at 1.
8 See e-mail from Fred Theobald, Senior Manager of Contributions, USAC, to Charles Eberle, Attorney Advisor,
FCC, dated Mar. 26, 2013 (USAC Mar. 26, 2013 e-mail) (confidential) (on file with Wireline Competition Bureau,
Telecommunications Access Policy Division staff).
9 Id.
10 Petition at 1 and Exh. 8-1-A; USAC Mar. 26, 2013 e-mail.
11 USAC Mar. 26, 2013 e-mail.
12 See e-mail from Fred Theobald, Senior Manager of Contributions, USAC, to Charles Eberle, Attorney Advisor,
FCC, dated Mar. 25, 2013 (USAC Mar. 25, 2013 e-mail) (confidential) (on file with Wireline Competition Bureau,
Telecommunications Access Policy Division staff) (discussing a Nov. 20, 2012 e-mail from USAC Customer
Support to Harvey Berg, President of Assist). The rejection e-mail from USAC clearly stated that Assist had
incorrectly filed a data entry form from the USAC website that states "For Date Entry Purpose Only. Please Do Not
Print this Form." Id.
13 See Petition at Exh. 8-1-B; USAC Mar. 26, 2013 e-mail.
14 See USAC Mar. 26, 2013 e-mail.
15 See USAC Mar. 25, 2013 e-mail (discussing a Feb. 15, 2013 e-mail from USAC Customer Support to Harvey
Berg).
16 See USAC Mar. 26, 2013 e-mail.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1908

the form showing revenues for the wrong year.17 USAC did not receive a correct November 2012 FCC
Form 499-Q until February 2013, and assessed late fees based on that date.18
6.
Businesses such as Assist have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the
Commission's rules and regulations.19 The August 2012 FCC Form 499-Q was due on August 1, 2012,
and the revisions were due within 45 days. Similarly, the November 2012 FCC Form 499-Q was due on
November 1, 2012, and the revisions were due within 45 days. Assist failed to submit a correct form for
both time periods by the appropriate deadlines. The fact that Assist continued to submit incorrect and
untimely filings despite multiple notices from USAC20 does not constitute circumstances sufficient to
warrant a reversal of USAC's decision.
7.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections
4(i) and 254(d) of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. 4(i), 254(d), and sections 0.91 and 0.291 of the
Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 0.91, 0.291, the request for review filed by Assist 123, LLC on March
13, 2013 IS DENIED.
8.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to section 1.102(b)(1) of the Commission's
rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.102(b)(1), this Order SHALL BE EFFECTIVE upon release.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Chin Yoo
Deputy Chief
Telecommunications Access Policy Division
Wireline Competition Bureau


17 Id.
18 Administrator's Decision on Contributor Appeal, Letter to Harvey Berg, President, Assist (Feb. 18, 2013).
19 See 47 C.F.R. 0.406.
20 See USAC Mar. 26, 2013 e-mail.
3

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