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E-Rate Central News for the Week
June 29, 2015

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 website.

Funding Status

Wave 7 for FY 2015 is expected to be released this week, most likely on Friday, July 3rd. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 through Wave 6 is an estimated $549 million.

Wave 58 for FY 2014 will be released Wednesday, July 1st. Funding for FY 2014 is available for Priority 1 services only. Priority 2 funding is being denied at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2014 is $2.23 billion.

USAC Introduces the E-Rate Productivity Center

USAC introduced its new online E-rate system last week. The new portal — designated the “E‑rate Productivity Center” or “EPC” (pronounced “Epic”) — is still under development, but is being rolled out live. Applicant, service provider, and consultant accounts are being established on a phased-in basis over the next week. As indicated in our newsletter of June 22, 2015, the EPC portal will ultimately be used for all electronic E-rate news, contacts, and filings. Most immediately, as soon as OMB approves the new version of the Form 470, filings of FY 2016 Form 470s will need to be made through the portal. It is important, therefore, for applicants (and their consultants) to get their EPC accounts established as early in July as possible.

Additional EPC information is available from USAC in:

The first step in establishing applicant EPC accounts is to respond to USAC emails being sent out in stages to the signers of FY 2015 Form 471 applications. The basic email is as follows:

From: admin@portal.usac.org [mailto:admin@portal.usac.org]
On Behalf Of EPC Application Administrator
Sent:  [Date and Time]
To:  [Name]
Subject: USAC EPC - Account Creation

USAC logo

Hello,

Your USAC E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) account has been created with the username: [Form 471 signer email address]

To log in with your new username, navigate to: https://portal.usac.org/suite/
Please select the forgot password option and follow ensuing directions.

Thank you.

Universal Service Administration Company

This may be followed by another email (which may model future EPC-related correspondence) reading:

From:  Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) [mailto:admin@portal.usac.org]
Sent:   [Date and Time]
Subject: New Task: Complete Terms and Conditions

USAC logo

Complete Terms and Conditions

This task was assigned to you on [Date and Time]
The task priority is Normal

To view the task, please follow this link

 

This message has been sent by EPC

 

     

The login process involves establishing a password (with specific characteristics), initially using the “Forgot Password” option on the sign-in screen. This will generate an email with a link to “reset” the password. Once that has been done, you can log into the system. At the first login, you will be asked to accept a three-page “EPC Access Agreement.”  It’s worth printing this out and reading it; upon subsequent logins, you’ll see only a vastly condensed acceptance paragraph.

Note that the introductory email and initial login for an applicant must be done by the person who signed the FY 2015 Form 471(s). In many cases this may be a senior administrator who will not be involved in day-to-day E-rate activities. Once the account is set up, however, the initial account “Administrator” can transfer that access authority to a new user and/or can establish other users (including consultants, if appropriate) with full, partial, or view-only rights.

For service provider and consultant accounts, the introductory email and initial “Administrator” rights are linked to the vendor’s current Form 498 or the consultant’s CRN registration.

E-Rate Updates and Reminders

Comments on Draft ESL for FY 2016:

Initial comments on the FCC’s Draft Eligible Services List (“ESL”) were due last Monday, June 22nd. Three sets of comments that we found interesting were filed by:

  • CRW Consulting discussing the FCC’s “overly-rigid approach” to duplicative services.
  • EducationSuperHighway providing a number of recommendations and clarifications regarding fiber networks and related services.
  • New York City Department of Education seeking, in particular, clarification on the types of fiber network equipment eligible for Category 1 funding.

To read all the initial comments as filed and posted, use the FCC’s search mechanism on its online Electronic Comment Filing System by entering “13-184” in the “Proceeding Number” field and focusing on the entries labeled as “COMMENT” in the “Type of Filing” column.

Reply comments are due July 6th.

Modernizing and Reforming Lifeline for Broadband:

As approved the preceding week, the FCC released a new order and notice of proposed rulemaking (FCC 15-71) to modernize the Lifeline program to make residential broadband more affordable for low-income families. Lifeline is one of the four Universal Service programs, of which E-rate is another, administered by the FCC and funded by a surcharge on interstate telecommunications revenues. The modernization proposes to extend monthly subsidies of $9.25, currently available to low-income families for landline or cellular telephone service, to broadband Internet access. One goal of the proposed changes is to provide more affordable student access to Internet services at home — an objective that will be of interest to many schools participating in the E‑rate program (see, in particular, sections II.A.2–3, Minimum Service Standards for Broadband, and Service Levels).

Comments on these issues will be due 30 days after the order is published in the Federal Register.  Reply comments will be due 30 days thereafter.

Schools and Libraries News Brief – No Regular News Brief Last Week

USAC did not issue a regular S&L News Brief on June 26, 2015. Instead, it released two Special Edition News Briefs about its new EPC customer portal (see above).

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.