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E-Rate News Flash Issue 19-03, February 22, 2019

E-RATE NEWS FLASH

Announcements 

Limited Waiver for Victims of October 2017 California Wildfires and Additional Opportunity to Request Relief

On January 3, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a limited waiver (DA 19-15 ) for victims of the October 2017 wildfires in eight counties designated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as eligible for disaster relief. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) published a list of affected applicants and issued instructions on how affected applicants may initiate requests in its January 22 USAC News Brief. It is important to note while this particular decision is limited, the FCC stated in its decision than any schools that were affected by other wildfires or natural disasters may submit their own requests for assistance to the FCC. Schools that may need relief such as additional Category Two funding for destroyed or damaged facilities, relief of documentation retention requirements due to destroyed records, or relief of deadlines are encouraged to submit their requests directly to the FCC.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Permanent Suspension of Category One Amortization Requirement

Prior to 2015, if a school or library E-rate applicant had a Category One broadband project with one-time costs exceeding $500,000 the applicant was required to amortize its E-rate funding request over three years, even if the applicant was required to pay for these costs in the first year. Category One one-time project costs most commonly include special construction, installation, up-front Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) costs for dark fiber, and modulating electronics to light dark fiber. In order to promote high-speed broadband deployment, the FCC temporarily suspended this requirement for funding years 2015 through 2018. The FCC is extending this suspension for Funding Year 2019 and is proposing to make this suspension permanent. The FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to allow for public comment on this issue; comments are due March 18 and reply comments are due April 1. Comments may be submitted via the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System under proceeding numbers 19-2 and 13-184.

FCC Staff Category Two Budget Report

In 2015, the FCC implemented a five-year test period for Category Two funding. This test set a five-year available budget for each school and library to use for equipment necessary to transmit a broadband signal on campus, commonly referred to as "WiFi." The purpose of the budget was to ensure broader and more reliable access to these funds for all schools and libraries regardless of discount and location. The FCC directed staff of the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) to compile a report concerning the adequacy of Category Two budgets prior to the opening of the 2019 funding year application window. In the WCB report, the WCB found that the test achieved objectives outlined in the 2014 Modernization Order and recommends for a continuation of Category Two budgets moving forward. It's important to note, however, that the FCC has not yet officially announced that Category Two funding will perpetuate after 2019.

USAC Transitioning of BPO Contractor and Impact on Pending Forms and Processes

Effective January 1, 2019, USAC has transitioned its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) functions from Solix to Maximus. This includes all E-rate Program Integrity Assurance Reviews, processing of pre and post-commitment forms and requests including Forms 471, 486 and 500, service substitutions, Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) changes, appeals and invoices. Applicants should have received outreach from either the new reviewer or a manager by February 1. If you did not receive this outreach, and you have a pending request, contact USAC by filing a customer service case in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC), or by calling 888-203-8100 for assistance.

FCC Form 471 Filing Window and Deadlines

USAC has announced that the FCC Form 471 filing window for Funding Year 2019 opened on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, at 12:00 noon EST (9:00 a.m. PST) and will close on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. EDT (8:59 p.m. PDT). FCC Form 471 applications must be certified within an applicant's EPC portal within these dates in order to be considered to be filed "within window."

California Funding Commitment Summary Funding Year 2018

USAC released FY2018 Wave 45 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDL) on February 15, 2019. As of February 15, FY2018, California commitments total over $271 million.

Pending Dates and Deadlines Funding Year 2017 Recurring Services Extended Invoice Deadline

In general, the deadline for invoicing USAC for FY 2017 recurring services was October 28, 2018. Applicants and service providers that requested and were approved for the single one-time 120-day extension now have an invoice deadline of February 26, 2019. Any additional invoices filed after February 26, 2019, will not be accepted by USAC and will require an approved waiver from the FCC of the invoice deadline extension rule. Note that the FCC will only issue waivers of the invoice deadline for extraordinary circumstances.

Funding Year 2019 FCC Form 470 "Deadline"

E-rate competitive bidding rules require that an FCC Form 470 be posted for a minimum of 28 days before filing an associated FCC Form 471 funding request. The E-rate applicant must also follow all E-rate competitive bidding rules. Note that the last date to file an FCC Form 470 and meet the minimum 28-day requirement, and also file within the FCC Form 471 window, is February 27, 2019. It's important to note, however, that compliance with E-rate competitive bidding requirements, as well as the time necessary to complete an FCC Form 471, make it unrealistic for most applicants to file their FCC Forms 470 on February 27. Best practices are for applicants to plan for a 30-60 day competitive bidding cycle to allow for unexpected changes, review bids received, and award contracts. If you have not yet posted your FCC Form 470 for Funding Year 2019, and expect that you will need to do so, do not delay. More information on FCC Form 470 and competitive bidding best practices is available on K12 High Speed Network's (K12HSN's) E-rate training website.

FCC Form 486 and Urgent Reminder Letters

FCC Form 486 must be filed 120 days from the date of the issuance of the FCDL, or the start date of E-rate eligible services, whichever is later. For ongoing recurring services, starting on July 1, 2018, the following deadlines have passed or are approaching in the next month.

Waves           FCDL
     #               Date                 Form 486 Due Date
                                            Deadline passed for services
1-28            4/20-9/30/18         starting July 1, 2018
29                10/26/18                    2/23/2019
30                11/05/18                    3/05/2019
31                11/12/18                    3/12/2019
32                11/19/18                    3/19/2019
33                11/23/18                    3/23/19
34                11/30/18                    3/30/19

USAC calculates the date to issue this letter based on the service start date reported on your FCC Form 471. If your actual service start date is later than the date you reported on FCC Form 471, then the deadline may not have passed. In this case, you are responsible for calculating your actual deadline as USAC will not issue additional reminder letters. You can use the 486 Deadlines Tool to calculate your specific deadline.USAC issues FCC Form 486 Urgent Reminder Letters to applicants that appear to have missed the deadline to certify an FCC Form 486. Applicants missing these or earlier deadlines should closely monitor their News Feed in the E-rate Productivity Center for an FCC Form 486 Urgent Reminder Letter. This letter will allow the applicant a 15-day extension to submit an FCC Form 486 without penalty.

If you miss the deadline, the service start date will be adjusted to 120 days prior to the date that the Form 486 was actually certified, which will likely reduce the funding commitment.


Upcoming Training Events

Numerous training opportunities available for E-rate applicants are coming soon.

USAC E-rate Program Applicant Training Series

USAC has posted its 2018 E-rate Program Applicant training materials recordings.

USAC Office Hours

In February and March, USAC will conduct USAC webinars which will allow for attendees to submit live questions about previously-published materials.

K12HSN Webinars

K12HSN Webinars

"Submitting Corrections and Understanding and Responding to USAC's Reviews"

04/11/2019 at 2:00 p.m.

Recordings of previous webinars are posted on the K12HSN website.

EducationSuperHighway Webinars

EducationSuperHighway Webinars

Recordings of previous webinars are posted on the EducationSuperHighway website.


E-rate Process: Activities to Work on Now
Collect Information Necessary to Complete FCC Form 471 Funding Request

For each FCC Form 471 funding request, the school or library applicant is required to report various data elements. Once the competitive bidding process concludes, applicants are encouraged to work with their awarded service providers to collect the information necessary to successfully complete its FCC Form 471 funding request(s).

Manage Contracts

If a contract is awarded for service, the applicant will be required to create a contract record in the "Manage Contracts" module in the EPC before it can successfully create a funding request. The contract record includes information such as the associated FCC Form 470, number of bids received, SPIN, date the contract was awarded, and if it has any extensions. Note that for services under month-to-month or tariff terms, the FCC Form 470, number of bids received, and SPIN will be reported directly in the Funding Request on the FCC Form 471.

Funding Request

Each Funding Request in the FCC Form 471 is assigned a Funding Request Number (FRN). In the Funding Request the applicant will be required to report the associated EPC contract record (if applicable), the anticipated service start and end dates, and the contract end date (if applicable). The applicant may use the narrative section to further describe the funding request and address any anomalies in EPC, such as incorrect enrollment and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) data or any missing entities.

FRN Line Items

Each Funding Request may have one or more FRN Line Items. The FRN Line Items capture the types of service, how the service is used, the cost of service, and the recipients of service. The FRN Line Items, particularly for Category Two funding requests, can be very time consuming to prepare, so it is important to allow for adequate time to complete these successfully. USAC has published Bulk Upload templates that applicants or service providers may utilize to pre-prepare the required information and upload the details into EPC.

CALPADS Flash #151
E-Rate News Flash- Issue 19-02, February 1, 2019
 

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