E-Rate Central News for the Week
September 27, 2010
The E-Rate Central News for the Week is prepared by E-Rate Central. E-Rate Central specializes in providing consulting, compliance, and forms processing services to E-rate applicants. To learn more about our services, please contact us by phone (516-801-7804), fax (516-801-7810), or through our Contact Us Web form. Additional E-rate information is located on the E-Rate Central Web site.
Wave 19 for FY 2010 will be released on Tuesday, September 28th, for $87.1 million. Although funding in this wave is only being provided for Priority 2 services at the 90% discount level, the funding threshold is scheduled to drop to 85% next week. Cumulative funding for FY 2010 will be $1.33 billion.
Wave 68 for FY 2009 will be released on Wednesday, September 29th, for $12 million. Cumulative funding for FY 2009 will be $2.76 billion. The final threshold for Priority 2 funding is 77% and above.
New FCC E-Rate Order
Last Thursday, in an open meeting, the FCC approved a much-anticipated report and order for an "upgraded and modernized" E-rate program. As of this past weekend, the full report and order had not been released (presumably because of last minute fine-tuning), so many of the details of the new rules are not yet known. Based on the staff presentation at the FCC meeting, comments by the Commissioners, and a short News Release, the following is a brief outline of the major changes expected for FY 2011, and some notes on their implications. Additional information should become available with the order's release (hopefully early this week) and at the SLD's first fall training workshop on Thursday.
- Applicants will have the option of leasing fiber optic transmission services from any provider, including non-profit and government agencies, and utility companies, as long as it is the most cost-effective solution.
Note: The order may include some restrictions on this broadened eligibility, such as limitations on the costs of new installations.
- Community use of school Internet facilities when school is not in session will be permitted.
Note: This provision is simply a permanent extension of the current waiver of existing E-rate rules to permit community use of school facilities during off-hours.
- Internet services in residential locations that serve "unique populations" will now be eligible.
Note: This will extend E-rate coverage to dorm facilities in special needs schools.
- Proposals will be sought for a limited pilot program providing off-campus wireless connectivity for students.
Note: This will likely be a competitive grant-like program. Much of the discussion has focused on e-books and interactive learning. A U.S. Department of Education proposal, if adopted, would mean pilot funding of $100M, $120M, and $140M over a three year period.
- The cap on E-rate funding, currently set at $2.25B per year, would be indexed to inflation.
Note: The inflation adjustment for FY 2011 would increase the cap by 1%, up $22.5M.
- The technology plan requirements for Priority 1 services will be eliminated.
Note: The initial proposal would have eliminated P1 tech plans only for applicants subject to state or local tech planning requirements. Based on several comments received, the FCC has apparently eliminated the P1 tech plan requirement altogether. Approved tech plans would still be required for Priority 2 services.
- The FCC has codified its requirements for open and fair bidding processes. In particular, E-rate gift rules parallel those of federal agencies.
Note: A summary of federal rules for Gifts from Outside Sources is available online.
- The FCC adopted the Eligible Services List for 2011.
Note: The new ESL reinstates dark fiber as an eligible service and retains the eligibility of Web hosting. Adoption of the 2011 ESL is a condition for opening the application window for FY 2011.
Based on information released to date, the new order apparently does not, at least in the short-term, implement other NPRM-proposals such as changes to the discount rate matrix or Internal Connections eligibility. Form 470/471 and CIPA changes were not mentioned (but are expected), nor was any indication of rules governing the disposal of obsolete equipment.
E-Rate Updates and Reminders
FCC Releases More Spectrum for Wi-Fi:
In addition to the new E-rate report and order released last week, the FCC also moved to free up vacant airwaves between TV channels — called "white spaces" — to support new wireless technologies, such as "super Wi-Fi." These frequencies are considered "prime real estate," making them ideally suited for mobile wireless devices. Development of new services and mobile devices to take advantage of this spectrum may take some time, but ultimately may tie well into the services being piloted under the new E-rate report and order. For additional spectrum information, see the FCC's Second Memorandum Opinion and Order (FCC 10-174).
September/October E-Rate Deadlines:
Applicants and service providers should pay careful attention to the following three deadlines in the last weeks of September and October:
- Non-recurring service deliveries and extension requests (September 30)
- Recurring service invoices for FY 2009 (October 28)
- Form 486s for FY 2010 (beginning October 29)
For additional information, see the SLD's News Brief of September 17th and our newsletter for the week of September 6th.
2010 E-Rate Training for Applicants:
The SLD will be conducting the first of its regional fall training workshops on Thursday, September 30, in Washington, DC. This should be a particularly interesting session because of the FCC's new E-rate rules discussed above.
Although all the fall workshops are now fully subscribed, copies of the training slides are expected to be posted on the SLD Web site by September 28th, two days before the first workshop in Washington, DC. Attendees at these workshops should bring their own copies of the slides; non-attendees planning to download the slides may want to wait a couple of weeks to allow for changes as the new rules are more fully digested.
The SLD's September 24th News Brief summarizes the key components of the new E-rate rules discussed above. The summary focuses primarily on the following three buzz-word phrases:
- Super-Fast Fiber
- School Spots
- Learning On-the-Go