E-Rate Central News for the Week
July 15, 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.
Wave 9 for FY 2013 will be released on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, for $16.5 million. Funding is currently being provided for Priority 1 services only. Cumulative funding for FY 2013 will be $214 million.
Wave 51 for FY 2012 will be released on Thursday, July 18, 2013, for $26.9 million. Priority 2 funding is being provided at 90%, and is being denied at 89% and below. Cumulative funding for FY 2012 is $2.65 billion.
E-Rate Updates and Reminders
Two Important E-Rate Meetings in Washington DC This Week:
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold a hearing on strengthening the E-Rate program and expanding access to the latest digital technology and learning tools in schools and libraries. The hearing will be held on Wednesday, July 17th at 2:30 p.m. and is titled, “E-Rate 2.0: Connecting Every Child to the Transformative Power of Technology.” The hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website.
The FCC’s next open Commission meeting will be held on Friday, July 19th at 10:30 a.m. The event may be viewed online at FCC Live Events. The tentative agenda for this meeting includes the following item:
Modernizing the E-Rate Program for Schools and Libraries: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to modernize the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support mechanism (the E-rate program) to support high-speed broadband for digital learning technologies and ensure all students, teachers, and library patrons have the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century.
FCC Appeal Decisions Watch:
The FCC released four appeal decisions last week involving different districts and the same service provider. It granted one set of appeals (DA 13-1523), but denied the other three (DA 13-1527, DA 13-1528, and DA 13-1529).
All the decisions involved similar competitive bidding issues that USAC had found relied on improper communications between the districts and the supplier. As a result, USAC had denied funding, not only for first contract year, but for 3-5 following funding years which relied on the same contracts. Upon initial appeals, the FCC had upheld USAC’s denials. Both the districts and the supplier then filed appeals.
The one set of appeals which was granted relied on a precedent-making decision (DA 13-1247) released last June which held that established communications with an existing supplier, as a part of an “ongoing business relationship,” does not necessarily bias any subsequent competitive bidding process (see our newsletter of June 10, 2013). Specifically, in this instance, the FCC found that the communication at issue occurred prior to the competitive bidding process and concerned the existing contract, or occurred after the bidding when the district had already selected the supplier. By way of contrast, for the three denied sets of appeals, the FCC reaffirmed its findings that the communications — in many cases, detailed in e-mail exchanges — involved extensive discussions on the forthcoming competitive bids, including assistance on Form 470 preparation.
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, Portland, and St. Louis. Regular registrations are still being accepted for Minneapolis (10/15), but only 20 spaces are still available.
Schools and Libraries News Brief Dated July 12 – Form 471 “Deferred” Status
The SLD News Brief for July 12, 2013, reviews the meaning of the Form 471 “Deferred” status indicator in the SLD’s View 471 Status tool. If a PIA reviewer attempted unsuccessfully to contact you on or after May 24th, when the summer contact procedures went into effect, USAC will assume that you are not available during the summer and will defer review of your application until the week after Labor Day. If you are or become available, and wish to restart the review process in the hope of getting an earlier funding commitment, the News Brief suggests contacting the PIA team manager for your state — and helpfully provides the team manger names and links to their e-mail addresses. This is also a useful list to have in case you have other types of PIA review problems, so we suggest you make a note of your state’s team manager.
Last week’s News Brief also briefly notes that the FCC has established a comment period for the FY 2014 Eligible Services List and that certain FY 2013 Form 471s have moved to “In-Window” status (both discussed in our newsletter of July 8, 2013).