The Vermont Universal Service Fund (VUSF) was established by Vermont law in 1994 through the enactment of 30 V.S.A. § 7501 for the purpose of creating a financial structure that will allow every Vermont household to obtain basic telecommunications service at an affordable price, and to finance that structure with a proportional charge on all telecommunications transactions that interact with the public switched network.
The VUSF supports five purposes in the following order of funding:
- Costs payable to the fiscal agent managing the fund under contract with the PSD
- The Vermont Telecommunications Relay Service and the Vermont Equipment Distribution Program
- The Vermont Lifeline program
- The Connectivity Fund established in 30 V.S.A. § 7516
The statutes governing the VUSF can be found on the Legislature's Vermont Statutes web page. They include:
- 30 V.S.A. § 218 for Lifeline discount program eligibilty and enrollment requirements
- 30 V.S.A Chapter 88 for laws concerning the VUSF
How the VUSF is funded
The VUSF statute provides for the imposition of a universal service surcharge on all retail telecommunications service provided to a Vermont address. All telecommunications providers must bill their customers for the VUSF charge, and deposit the funds collected through the surcharge in the VUSF fund.
VUSF annual audits
The VUSF is audited by an independent auditor annually. The reports from the auditors are posted below.
The VUSF is administered through a contract awarded following competitive bid by the PSD. The current contractor for the Vermont Universal Service Fund is Solix Inc. The monthly performance reports are posted below.
Vermont Telecommunications Relay Service
The Vermont Telecommunications Relay Service (Vermont Relay) is a free service for all Vermonters, connecting individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing, or have a speech disability with users of standard telephones. Whether calling on a standard telephone or a caption or text telephone, relay makes communication simple, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information on this service please visit Vermont-Relay.
Pursuant to Act 79, enacted in 2019, the collection method for the VUSF surcharge on the sale of prepaid wireless services changed from a wholesale collection model to a point-of-sale collection model. This new collection method takes effect January 1, 2020 and will be administered through the Vermont Department of Taxes. Please check back here for updates regarding this change. In the meantime Wireless prepaid receipts are being collected in the same manner as outlined in the Public Utility Commission's order of September 3, 2014 (linked below).