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In This Week's Issue
» Funding Status Update
» E-Rate Updates and Reminders
» Schools and Libraries News Brief dated June 21 – Appeals

E-Rate Central News for the Week
June 24, 2013

Introduction

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.

Funding Status

Wave 6 for FY 2013 will be released on Tuesday, June 25, 2013, for $8.4 million.  Funding is currently being provided for Priority 1 services only.  Cumulative funding for FY 2013 will be $184 million.

Wave 49 for FY 2012 will be released on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, for $55.1 million.  Priority 2 funding is being provided at 90%, and is being denied at 89% and below.  Cumulative funding for FY 2012 will be $2.57 billion.

E-Rate Updates and Reminders

FCC Appeal Decisions Watch:

The FCC published an appeal decision for Alexander County SD et al (DA 13-1383) last week granting 27 requests, partially granting three, and denying nine others.  All petitioners sought waivers to correct what were portrayed as clerical or ministerial ("M&C") errors.  The precedent for allowing applicants to correct M&C errors in applications is the 2006 Bishop Perry decision (FCC 06-54).

The Alexander decision itself provides very little detail on the range of alleged M&C errors in the underlying appeals, much less on the FCC's rationale for accepting or rejecting the appellants' positions.  A review of the actual appeal filings, however, provides useful indications, such as:

  1. The FCC approved two appeals seeking to correct the Block 5 amount or category of service as filed, citing the correct information shown in the associated Item 21 attachments.  These appear to be straight-forward M&C errors which could have been corrected more simply with a USAC appeal, if not during the original PIA review.
  2. The FCC denied one appeal seeking to expand a Priority 1 Block 4 listing from two schools to all six of the district's schools.  The appellant argued that the two-school listing was clearly in error because the district's previous year applications had been for all six schools, but it apparently could not point to any documents indicating that it had intended to include all schools on its FY 2012 application.
  3. More interestingly, the FCC approved and/or denied a series of appeals seeking to remove entities from Block 4 listings which, if granted, would raise the discount rate to 90%, the Priority 2 funding threshold for FY 2012.  In these cases, the FCC's approval/denial decisions depended heavily on the documentation submitted to show that the requested changes were truly the result of M&C errors, not simply attempts to adjust applications to meet the funding threshold.  One distinction the FCC apparently used in approving changes was contract documentation precisely listing only the entities in the corrected Block 4s.  The FCC did not accept, as evidence of M&C errors, simple statements of processing errors made in the preparation of the Block 4s or spreadsheets reportedly showing the list of entities that were supposed to be included in the Block 4s.

SLD Fall Applicant Training Schedule:

The SLD has scheduled eight one-day applicant training sessions this fall from late September through early November.  As of last Friday, the Washington DC and Los Angeles sessions were closed, and registrations were being accepted on a waiting list only basis for Atlanta, Houston, Newark, and St. Louis.  Regular registrations are still being accepted for Minneapolis (10/15) and Portland (11/7), but less than 75 spaces are available in total.

Updated Income Survey Letters:

Updated versions of E-Rate Central's income survey letters, in both English and Spanish, are available in the Forms Rack section of our website.  The updated versions use the USDA's 2013-2014 income eligibility guidelines for the 48 contiguous states (plus DC, Guam, and American Samoa) as corrected and published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2013.  Qualifying income levels for reduced-priced meals have increased roughly 2-3% from the 2012‑2013 school year.

FCC Chairman Confirmation Hearing:

As previewed in our last newsletter, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing last Tuesday on the nomination of Thomas Wheeler to be Chairman of the FCC.  We had hoped that plans to modernize the E-rate program might be featured prominently in the hearing, but E-rate played only a minor role.  Specifically:

  1. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller's (D, WV) opening statement stressed his personal interest in two FCC matters, incentive spectrum auctions and E-rate.  He later secured Mr. Wheeler's commitment, if confirmed, to work with him on E-rate.
  2. Mr. Wheeler's prepared testimony included one sentence acknowledging that "it doesn't make sense that 80% of e-Rate schools report the available bandwidth is below their instructional needs."

FCC Commission Meeting on Universal Service Reform:

The agenda for the FCC's upcoming Commission meeting on Thursday, June 27th, includes a presentation by the Wireline Competition and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus on the status of Universal Service Reform Implementation.  If the presentation focuses on recent achievements, there may little discussion on E-rate.  But if future developments are discussed, E‑rate may be figured prominently.

This meeting can be viewed for a fee over George Mason University's Capitol Connection.

Schools and Libraries News Brief Dated June 21 – Appeals

The SLD News Brief for June 21, 2013, reviews the process for submitting appeals to either USAC or the FCC.  It provides the following tips for writing an appeal:

  • Clearly mark your submission as an appeal.
  • Identify yourself and provide all contact information.
  • Specify the USAC decision you are appealing including application numbers and FRN(s).
  • Address all the issues identified by USAC.
  • State briefly, but precisely, why you feel the USAC decision is incorrect.
  • Note any other information that should be reviewed.
  • Retain all documentation.
  • Remember that requests for waivers of FCC rules can be made only to the FCC (USAC cannot waive FCC rules).
Disclaimer: This newsletter may contain unofficial information on prospective E-rate developments and/or may reflect our own interpretations of E-rate practices and regulations. Such information is provided for planning and guidance purposes only. It is not meant, in any way, to supplant official announcements and instructions provided by either the SLD or the FCC.