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E-Rate Central News for the Week
June 13, 2016

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

FY 2016:

The FY 2016 filing deadline for school and school district applications was Thursday, May 26th. The first funding wave for FY 2016 should be released later this month (see following article).

Libraries and consortia, whose applications depend on the completion of related school district entity data, were granted an additional eight-week extension to July 21st. As a result of the latter Form 471 extended deadline, the last possible date for libraries and consortia to file Form 470s for FY 2016 is June 23rd.

FY 2015:

Wave 54 for FY 2015 will be released on Wednesday, June 15th. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 services at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 is $3.29 billion.

Completion of FY 2016 Pre-Funding Procedures

USAC and the FCC have completed all the preliminary steps required before USAC can release Wave 1 for FY 2016. With EPC, there was more to be done than normal. In particular:

  1. USAC provided the FCC with a preliminary estimate of the funding demand for FY 2016 (see cover letter and attachment). The preliminary demand estimate was unusual this year because there are two application windows. Last week’s estimate was based on applications submitted during the first window, plus a projection of the demand expected to be filed by the end of the second window on July 21st. Specifically:
    1. The preliminary demand as of the close of the May 26th window was $3.175 billion.
    2. The projection for the additional funding requests, expected by the end of the second window, was calculated by assuming that the “total demand for libraries and consortia will be 10 percent higher than the FY 2015 demand for those entities.”
    3. In total, USAC’s preliminary demand estimate for FY 2016 is $3.609 billion, down 8% from the FY 2015 demand estimate of $3.920 billion.
  2. Based on USAC’s estimate, the FCC authorized full funding of all valid funding requests at all discount rates for both Category 1 and Category 2 services. The FCC’s authorization (DA 16-629) reflects previous decisions setting the FY 2016 funding cap at $3.939 billion, together with the carry-forward of previously unused funds of $1.9 billion. This provides a comfortable margin of error of $2.2 billion over USAC’s projection of additional demand during the second application window.
  3. The FCC approved (DA 16-643) USAC’s PIA review procedures for FY 2016.
  4. USAC has developed an EPC-based system component to notify both applicants and service providers of funding commitment decisions (see following FCDL article).
  5. A revised version of the Form 486 is now available within EPC (but cannot be used until funding commitments are issued). When needed, the Form 486 may be accessed by going to “FCC Forms” and clicking on the “Create FCC Form 486” button.

    Revised Form 486
    Instructions for filing an EPC Form 486 were included in last Friday’s USAC News Brief summarized below.
  6. A new EPC-based process has been developed to file and track FY 2016 USAC appeals (see following appeal article).

Updates on USAC’s E-Rate Productivity Center

FCDLs for FY 2016:

Traditionally, when an application was approved in a funding wave, summary data became available on the wave release date in USAC’s Search Commitments tool, and an applicant would be mailed a hard-copy Funding Commitment Decisions Letter (“FCDL”). This remains the process for FY 2015 and prior funding years.

Beginning with FY 2016, FCDL information — not really “letters” — will be conveyed to applicants (and related service providers) electronically through EPC. The new FCDL process, discussed in USAC’s S&L News Brief of June 3, 2016, will work as follows:

  1. On the funding wave release date, the contact listed on an approved (or denied) application will receive an email notification directing the applicant to the Landing Page of its EPC account. Other EPC account holders will have similar access, but will not have received an email.
  2. The Landing Page will include a new Notifications section listing all FCDLs issued so far to that applicant. Under “Notifications,” you can filter on “FCDL”s. If this is the first time you or your authorized users are viewing the FCDL, it will say “Generate Notification.”  Once you or any of your users click the “Generate Notification” hyperlink, the FCDL will be created in the system and the message will update to “View Notification.”  Based on USAC’s trial system, the Notifications dashboard appears as follows:
    EPC FCDL Notifications
  3. The “View Notification” link will take the user to the applicant’s News feed. The actual News article includes a summary of the FCDL and links to three attachments with the following information:
    1. An electronic version of the descriptive information contained in a traditional FCDL, including total FCDL funding, obligations to pay the non-discounted share, rights to appeal, etc.
    2. A *.CSV file, which can be opened in Excel, containing tabular data on every FRN in that application.
    3. The underlying Form 471 itself. Note that this will be the “current” version of the Form 471, including any changes made during PIA, rather than the “original” version as initially filed.
  4. You may toggle the status of the notification to display “All”, “Generated”, or “Not Generated”.

    EPC Screen

    Reminder: Don’t be alarmed if it is your first time viewing the FCDL but it doesn’t ask you to “Generate Notification”. While it may be your first time viewing the FCDL, a colleague or other authorized user may have viewed it first which allows you to skip the “Generate Notification” stage.

Creating and Tracking Appeals:

EPC now includes a function to file and track USAC appeals. The new appeals system applies only to FY 2016 funding decisions, thus becomes effective only after funding begins. Although USAC may accept FY 2016 appeals filed outside of EPC, the tracking feature of EPC appeals will make this the preferred option.

To file a FY 2016 USAC appeal, use the “Related Actions” activity, and choose:

EPC Create Appeal

This link leads to an appeal creation form beginning with the following page:

EPC Create Appeal

Once an appeal is filed through EPC, status information can be tracked with one click from the Landing Page.

EPC Appeal Status

E-Rate Updates and Reminders

Comments on the Proposed ESL Due July 5th:

The FCC is seeking comment on the draft Eligible Services List (“ESL”) for FY 2017. The Public Notice (DA 16-615) contains a summary of changes and the proposed ESL itself. Comments on the proposed ESL are due July 5th; reply comments are due July 20th.

File Along with Me – Second Filing Window:

USAC issued two additional “File Along with Me” blog postings last week dealing with the following topics concerning the second filing window for libraries and consortia:

Post 50

  • Why libraries and consortia need more time to apply than schools.
  • Try applying now; don’t wait until July 21.

Post 51

  • If I apply in the “second window,” will my funding commitment be later too?  Short answer: Not necessarily.
  • Can we use the “second window” extension to start a new application, or just to finish a partially-completed one?  Short answer: A new application can be started.
  • Can schools and school districts still apply for funding?  Short answer: Yes, but such applications will be considered out-of-window.

Transition to the New FCC ECFS:

The FCC will transition (DA 16-633) to a new Electronic Comment Filing System (“ECFS”) next Monday, June 20th. As it currently exists, the ECFS offers an easy way to file comments and appeals with the FCC, and to view similar documents filed by others. Most E-rate filings may be found in the ECFS Full Text Search under Proceeding Number “02-6.”

Web-based tutorials on the new ECFS are scheduled this week on Tuesday and Thursday.

Form 486 Deadlines for June:

The Form 486 deadline for certifying the start of service (and CIPA compliance, if applicable) is 120 days from the later of the FCDL approval date or the start of service date. The deadlines for the remainder of June (adjusted for weekends and holidays) for approved FY 2015 applications are:

Wave 37       06/21/201
Wave 38       06/27/2016

Schools and Libraries News Brief Dated June 10 – Form 486 for FY 2016

The S&L News Brief of June 10, 2016 provides a preview of the EPC-version of the Form 486 that applicants must file after receiving funding commitments for FY 2016. The purpose of the Form 486 is to notify USAC that services have started and to certify compliance (if required) with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (“CIPA”). The News Brief covers:

  • Starting the Form 486
  • Selecting the funding request numbers (“FRNs”) for the Form 486
  • Changing the service start date(s)
  • Providing additional information (e.g., re. early filing)
  • Certifying the Form 486
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.