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E-Rate Central News for the Week
July 4, 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:

After a two week pause, USAC released Wave 2 on Sunday, July 3rd. The previous week’s News Brief attributed the delay to a “technical challenge.”  Further discussion at last week’s service provider training in Atlanta indicated that many applications were ready to go, but that USAC needed to “pair up” applications — presumably for those applicants filing multiple applications under the same BENs.

USAC also announced last week (see July 1st News Brief referenced below) that problems with the FCDLs released in Wave 1 have been resolved. Affected applicants and service providers have been emailed instructions for regenerating the Wave 1 FCDLs. The email noted the following problems with Wave 1 FCDLs:

  • The service provider's name and identification number (SPIN) were missing from the applicant file.
  • Aggregate data at the bottom of the service provider FCDL had inaccurate total commitment amounts.
  • The funding request information was missing from the service provider file.
  • Multiple FCDLs were incorrectly issued to the same service provider.

FY 2015:

Wave 57 for FY 2015 will be released on Friday, July 8th. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 services at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 is $3.31 billion.

Updates on USAC’s E-Rate Productivity Center and Legacy System

New as of July 1st:

July 1st was a critical date for the update and/or revision of the following three E-rate forms:

  1. The default funding year for the Form 470 has been updated for FY 2017 to permit applicants to begin their procurement cycles for the next funding year.
  2. The Service Provider Annual Certification (Form 473 or “SPAC”) is now available for filing only online. The SPAC filing system is an update of USAC’s legacy system, and has not been incorporated in EPC. Paper SPACs are no longer being accepted. The updated system allows suppliers to file their SPACs for one or more funding years at the same time. Applicants seeking discounts for FY 2016, FY 2015, or earlier years, should Search for SPIN Information to make sure that their suppliers have filed SPACs for the funding year at issue.
  3. As discussed below, applicant BEAR (Form 472) reimbursement invoices must now be filed online. The revised online BEAR form — updated in USAC’s legacy system, not in EPC — no longer requires service provider acknowledgement. Payments will be made directly to the applicants rather than through the service providers. To facilitate direct electronic payments, applicants must first complete Form 498s to provide bank account information to USAC. Although service providers are no longer involved in the actual BEAR process, USAC will not process BEAR payments unless the associated service providers have current SPACs for the funding years affected.

Online BEAR Process:

The new online BEAR may be accessed on:

  • USAC’s Forms page (click the "File Online" link in the FCC Form 472 section), or
  • USAC’s Apply for E-Rate page (click the "Start Your Form 472" button).

Here are the key steps in the new BEAR filing process:

  1. Login with your BEN, PIN, email address, and last name.

    EPC Applicant Login
  1. Agree to the Terms and Conditions, then select “New BEAR Form.”

    EPC New BEAR Form
  1. Add a BEAR invoice, one line or more at a time. Most importantly, note the field for the “Applicant FCC Form 498 ID.”  This form gives USAC the necessary bank account information for electronic payment.

    EPC Add BEAR Invoice
  1. Complete the certifications and submit (or “Save” to permit another person to submit the BEAR).
  2. Once submitted, the system lets the user “View BEAR Invoice” in a display similar to the “Add BEAR Invoice” format shown above. A “Printable Page” option in the display generates a traditionally formated three-page paper BEAR (minus the old service provider acknowledgement page). The system also sends the following email confirmation to the BEAR contact.

    EPC BEAR Successfully Submitted

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 Update:

USAC has resumed its regular “File Along with Me” blog series. A link to last week’s posting is provided below. You can subscribe to the blog by entering your email address on the blog’s home page (under the USAC logo), and confirming the resulting email.

Post No.    Title

  1.         What to Expect During PIA Review: What the Reviewers Are Checking for

FCC Decision Watch:

The FCC issued its latest monthly set of “streamlined,” precedent-based decisions in Public Notice DA 16-732. On the plus side, the FCC approved 74 waivers for the FY 2016 application deadline for Form 471s filed within two weeks of the close of the window. On the negative side — and of a contrary nature — the FCC denied another 20 invoice deadline waiver requests.

One interesting situation involved a competitive bidding violation in which the service provider apparently provided extensive assistance in the preparation of the applicant’s Form 470. In denying the appeal, the FCC found that “the service provider assisted the applicant with the preparation of its FCC Form 470 by providing it with a guide containing a list of E-rate eligible services that stated that the applicant should list all of the services in the guide on its FCC Form 470. The list of services in the guide and the services sought on the FCC Form 470 were nearly identical.”

Form 486 Deadlines for 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 the remainder of July (adjusted for weekends and holidays) for approved FY 2015 applications are:

                                          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 July 1 – Direct BEAR Reimbursements

The S&L News Brief of July 1, 2016 provides a number of reminders regarding the new direct BEAR reimbursement process discussed in more detail 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.