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E-Rate Central News for the Week
June 20, 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:

Wave 1 for FY 2016 was released last Thursday, June 16th (see USAC’s Special Edition News Brief as of that date). The first wave included commitments of over $17.7 million for 2,251 approved applications.

As a result of the delayed window close, as well as possible system issues, Wave 1 was significantly smaller in total dollars, total applications, and average application size than the comparable first wave for FY 2015 last year. It appears that Wave 1 did not include a number of applications temporarily shown as “Wave Ready” the preceding week and whose release may have been delayed for technical reasons. We expect that Wave 2 will be released later this week.

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. For those still experiencing application problems, USAC released additional guidance last week (see Post 52) entitled “Troubleshooting for Libraries and Consortia.”  As a result of the extended Form 471 deadline, the last possible date for libraries and consortia to file Form 470s for FY 2016 is this Thursday, June 23rd.

FY 2015:

Wave 55 for FY 2015 will be released on Thursday, June 23rd. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 services at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 is $3.30 billion.

Updates on USAC’s E-Rate Productivity Center

Tracking and Reviewing FCDLs for FY 2016:

Individual FCDLs:

When an application is funded for FY 2016, as occurred in Wave 1 last week, the primary contact is notified by email that a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (“FCDL”) has been issued.

EPC FCDL Example

When this occurs, the EPC Landing Page for that applicant will display “Notifications” pointing to the FCDL(s) for the approved application(s). To see the actual FCDL, which is no longer mailed as a physical “letter,” the FCDL must first be “generated.”  This may be done by the first authorized user of that account who views the Notifications. The following example shows the status of two applications, one indicating that the FCDL has been generated and one indicating that the FCDL has yet to be generated.

EPC FCDL Notification

The “View Notification” link brings up an FCDL News feed, beginning with the following initial text:

EPC FCDL News Feed

More importantly, as shown below, the News feed also provides a summary of the total funding approved for the application and links to the following:

  1. A PDF containing basically the same basic information (e.g., appeal rights, etc.) as was contained in the historic FCDL.
  2. A CSV file, which can be opened in Excel, with a separate row for each FRN showing funding requested, funding committed, and an explanation of any differences (if applicable).
  3. Applicant and contact information on the application including links to the original version of the Form 471 and (not yet available) the current post-commitment version of the Form 471.

EPC FY 2016 FCDL Suppliment

State Wave Funding:

Funding can also be tracked on a state-by-state basis outside of EPC. Two search tools are:

  1. The “View/Download FCC Form 471 for FY2016” tool yields a detailed seven-tab Excel file showing either the “Original” Form 471s, as filed, or the “Current” Form 471s as funded. This tool is available today.

    Download FCC Form 471 for FY 2016 Tool
  1. USAC plans to provide an FY 2016 version of the current “Search Commitments” tool to summarize funding by state and by wave, and to generate detailed state-wave FRN Excel files. This tool is in development.

Filing Form 486s:

Now that FCDLs have begun to be issued for FY 2016, Form 486s for approved FRNs may be filed within EPC. Normally, a Form 486 should not be filed until services for that funding year have begun. For the benefit of those funded in early waves, however, there is a special certification permitting the filing of early Form 486s as long as services will begin before the end of July.

To file a Form 486, use the following “Create FCC Form 486” link available on the Landing Page:

File a Form 486

Once a Form 486 is filed, it will show up twice as Notifications on the applicant’s Landing Page, first as being certified, and second as being reviewed and approved by USAC.

Form 486 Notification

Once approved, the “View Notification” link brings up the following News feed with embedded links to:

  1. The Form 486; and
  2. Basic applicant data.
    Form 486 Notification Letter

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.

New FCC ECFS Available:

The FCC’s new Electronic Comment Filing System (“ECFS”) is available as of today. The ECFS can be used, not only for FCC filings, but to search for comments and other documents filed by others. The new ECFS interface is a lot cleaner.

Old Version:

Old Electronic Comment Filing System

New Version:

New Electronic Comment Filing System

Most importantly, the search function is much improved. It permits specific search phrases, set off by quotation marks, and allows multiple search terms linked by Boolean operators. For example:

FCC ECFS Search

USAC’s Service Provider Training Information:

The first of USAC’s annual spring training sessions for service providers begins today, June 20th, in Los Angeles. A second session will be held next Thursday, June 30th, in Atlanta. The following agenda and presentation information is available:

Agenda and Presentations

Agenda: 2016 E-rate Program Service Provider Training E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 Agenda

  1. Opening Remarks E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - Eligible Services
  2. Introduction to E-rate Introduction to E-rate Service Provider Training 2016
  3. EPC Fundamentals - Live Demonstration
  4. Invoicing E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - Invoicing
  5. Fiber Essentials - Coming Soon!
  6. Eligible Services E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - Eligible Services
  7. All About Audits E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - All About Audits

Form 486 Deadlines for June–July:

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 July and the remainder of June (adjusted for weekends and holidays) for approved FY 2015 applications are:

                           Wave 37                06/21/2016
                           Wave 38                06/27/2016
                           Wave 39                07/01/2016
                           Wave 40                07/11/2016
                           Wave 41                07/15/2016
                           Wave 42                07/22/2016
                           Wave 43                07/29/2016

Schools and Libraries News Brief Dated June 17 – Commitments for FY 2016 and FY 2015

The S&L News Brief of June 17, 2016 reminds applicants that FCDLs for FY 2015 will continue to be mailed as actual letters, but that FCDLs for FY 2016 will be distributed through EPC. The News Brief also focuses on the use of CSV files (discussed above) to review committed FRN data.

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.