E-Rate Central News for the Week
April 1, 2013
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 (516-801-7814), or through our Contact Us Web form. Additional E-rate information is located on the E-Rate Central Web site.
The FY 2013 Form 471 application filing window closed March 14, 2013. USAC's preliminary estimate of FY 2013 demand should be released by mid-April.
Wave 37 for FY 2012 will be released on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, for $19.5 million. Priority 2 funding is being provided at 90%, and is being denied at 89% and below. Cumulative funding for FY 2012 will be $2.07 billion.
Wave 86 for FY 2011 will be released on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, for $2.0 million. Priority 2 requests are being funded at 88% and above, and denied at 87% and below. Cumulative funding for FY 2011 will be $2.55 billion.
E-Rate Updates and Reminders
April Form 486 Deadlines:
The deadline for filing a Form 486 is 120 days from the Service Start Date (typically July 1st of the funding year for recurring services) or from the issuance date of the Funding Commitment Decision Letter ("FCDL"), whichever is later. At this point in the FY 2012 funding cycle, the Form 486 deadline is normally determined by the FCDL date. On this basis, the Form 486 deadlines for the month of April 2013 are as follows:
||Form 486 Deadline
If the Form 486 Deadline is missed USAC will issue a letter notifying the applicant that the deadline was missed and provide the applicant a 20-day grace period to submit the Form 486 without penalty.
If the extended Form 486 deadline is missed, USAC will adjust the service start date to the later of the Service Start Date on the Form 486 or 120-days prior to the postmark of the Form 486. If this occurs, USAC will not pay for any services delivered prior to the adjusted service start date. For recurring services, USAC will adjust the total funding commitment proportionately.
FCC Requests for Comments on Revised Forms 472, 473, and 474:
Three weeks ago, the FCC requested comments (DA 13-363) on new draft versions of the Form 472 ("BEAR"), Form 473 ("SPAC"), Form 474 ("SPI"), and their associated instructions. Comments on the new draft forms and instructions were due March 27th; reply comments are due April 8th.
Only a limited number of initial comments were received, focusing most substantively on the following two issues:
- Comments filed by the State E-Rate Coordinators' Alliance ("SECA") and CSM Consulting reiterated a suggestion often made in past, but ignored so far by the FCC, to include remittance contact information on the BEAR form. Currently, each service provider makes its own decision on addressing a BEAR remittance check. As a result, the check may go amiss, at least as far as the applicant's E-rate contact is concerned. As a practical matter, we believe that the FCC's goal in this round of form revisions is a simple periodic update; substantial form information changes are unlikely.
- Comments filed by the United States Telecom Association ("USTA") and The Shultz Group focus almost entirely on a new certification proposed in the Form 473 Service Provider Annual Certification ("SPAC") which would require each service provider to certify its compliance with the FCC's Lowest Corresponding Price ("LCP") rule. Both argue, as USTA has maintained in the past (see our newsletter of October 29, 2012), that the FCC must first clarify specifics of the LCP rule. Up to now, the FCC has ignored USTA's plea for LCP clarification; it will be interesting to see if the FCC will ignore these form change comments as well on the premise that the LCP rule is already clear.
E-Rate Compliance Training:
In early 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement with the Houston Independent School District resolving contentions that HISD had engaged in non-competitive bidding practices for E-rate contracts. As a part of the settlement, HISD agreed to pay $850,000 in civil claims, withdraw pending E-rate funding requests for "millions of dollars," and establish an E-rate compliance program.
As a part of the required program, HISD hired an E-rate Compliance Officer whose responsibilities include an annual E-rate compliance training workshop for any employees involved in the E-rate procurement and funding process and for all school board members. A short video (22 min.) of HISD's most recent E-rate compliance training, available online, would be beneficial to other applicant employees and board members.
Schools and Libraries News Brief Dated March 29 – RAL Corrections
The SLD News Brief for March 29, 2013 discusses the importance of carefully reviewing Form 471 Receipt Acknowledgment Letters ("RALs") and of making corrections as necessary. Specifically, the News Brief provides and explains the following three tips:
- Verify that you need to submit a correction. If no corrections are necessary, do not respond to the RAL; it will only delay the processing of your application.
- If you submit a correction, make sure your submission is complete and timely. Always include a signed copy of page 3 of the RAL and any other pages showing corrections. RAL corrections may be submitted any time before USAC issues a Funding Commitment Decision Letter ("FCDL"), but the earlier the better.
- Be prepared to answer questions about your requested corrections. Remember that only ministerial or clerical ("M&C") errors may be corrected, and that you may be asked to document the nature of the error.