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E-Rate Central News for the Week
July 11, 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:

Continuing to work on weekends to resolve technical problems, USAC released Wave 3 on Saturday, July 9th.  Cumulative funding through Wave 3 is $54 million. To access data on the first three waves, see the “FY 2016 Funding Data” article below.

The extended Form 471 application filing window for libraries and consortia closes July 21st.

FY 2015:

No wave for FY 2015 is scheduled this week.  Cumulative funding is $3.31 billion.

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

FY 2016 Funding Data:

Pre-FY 2016, USAC provided funding data through two major tools, Search Commitments for wave-by-wave committed funding, and the more detailed Data Retrieval Tool (“DRT”) for both pending and committed funding.  The funding data for FY 2016, however, is embedded in the new EPC system.  As such, it is not linked into USAC’s pre-FY 2016 funding tools.  In its place USAC has created two non-EPC funding tools, one new as of last Friday (see USAC’s News Brief referenced below).  Both can be found in USAC’s list of Search Tools, if you look carefully.

For total funding, either requested or committed, use the View/Download FCC Forms 471 for FY2016 tool found at:

View/Download FCC Forms 471 for FY 2016

To get committed data for a given state, select the “Current” form version.  “Save” will generate a seven-tab Excel workbook with basic entity funding data in the first tab and more detailed data on other tabs. To get all the data in a single worksheet requires considerable data manipulation.  USAC has indicated that a more user-friendly, DRT-like, search tool for FY 2016 will be made available in the future.

Download FCC Form 471 for FY 2016 

For wave-by-wave data, try USAC’s new FY2016 Wave Report.  This tool opens an Excel workbook with a 27-column spreadsheet for each wave in each tab (as of last Sunday, only Wave 1 was shown). Wave data shows all FRNs approved nationwide.

E-Raate Funding Search Tool

The best way to get funding data for a specific applicant (or service provider) is to use E-Rate Central’s “Funding Quick Search” found in the top left-hand corner of every State Information page.

E-Rate Central's Funding Quick Search

This tool, long available for free on the E-Rate Central website, has been updated to provide consistently-formatted funding data for funding years 1998-2016.  The tool allows the user to drill down to individual funding years, including FY 2016, and to specific funding requests.

Responding to PIA:

Post # 55 of USAC’s “File Along with Me” (referenced below) reminds applicants that PIA application review questions are no longer emailed directly to the contacts.  Instead, emails are sent to the contacts alerting them to pending questions that have to be accessed through EPC.  The first trick is finding those questions.

Under the somewhat understated title “Three ways to view your PIA questions,” USAC describes the following options:

  1. Locate in the EPC “News” feed.
  2. Locate in the EPC “Tasks” tab.
  3. Locate in your school’s or library’s EPC profile.
  4. Locate in the EPC “Records” tab.

BEARs in Transition:

Effective July 1st, all applicant BEARs must be submitted online, and approved reimbursements will be paid directly and electronically to applicants (no longer going through the service providers).  For additional information on the new BEAR process and the associated applicant Form 498 requirement, see our newsletter of July 4th and USAC’s most recent News Brief referenced below.

BEARs filed just prior to July 1st, which did not get approved and paid by that time, are subject to one of the following three transitional scenarios.

  1. BEARs submitted, acknowledged by the service provider, and approved by USAC by June 30th:  Handled by USAC as before.  USAC will pay the service providers, and the service providers will pay the applicants.
  2. BEARs submitted and acknowledged, but not approved, by June 30th:  When approved, USAC will pay the applicants directly.  If an applicant does not have a completed Form 498, USAC will send them a message stating that funds have been approved for disbursement, but that the applicant must complete a Form 498.
  3. BEARs submitted, but not acknowledged, by June 30th:  Applicants must resubmit the BEARs using the new system.  USAC will so notify the applicants.

For those applicants not in transition — i.e., those with approved Form 498s now ready to file BEARs online — we have good news.  The new online BEAR system is a revised version of USAC’s proven legacy system. Our initial experience with the system has been excellent.  We filed four BEARs during the first three days of operation; all four BEARs were approved the following day (on the 4th of July!); and electronic payment was received by the applicant on July 5th.  Although there is no alternative, we highly recommend USAC for the processing of all your BEARs.

E-Rate Updates and Reminders

Comments on the Proposed ESL:

Comments on the draft Eligible Services List (“ESL”) for FY 2017 (DA 16-615) were due last week.  To date, the only comments received and posted by the FCC are summarized below.

  1. Aruba asked the FCC to make Wi-Fi Policy Management System equipment eligible, a move designed to provide similar treatment of comparable functionality deemed eligible under the Managed Internal Broadband Services category.
  2. Funds For Learning petitioned the FCC to suspend the phase-down of discounts for voice services in FY 2017 in order to give the Wireline Competition Bureau time to evaluate the impact of the phase-down as directed in the FCC’s E-rate Modernization Order (FCC 14-99, ¶ 135).

Reply comments on the ESL are due July 20th.

File Along with Me:

A link to last week’s “File Along with Me” 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.         How to Respond to Questions About Your Application

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 8 – Invoicing Guidance and Reminders

The S&L News Brief of July 8, 2016 addresses a number of invoicing topics as summarized below.

  1. The following forms can no longer be submitted on paper:
    1. Form 472, Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (“BEAR”)
    2. Form 473, Service Provider Annual Certification (“SPAC”)
    3. Form 474, Service Provider Invoice (“SPI”)
  2. Service providers must file SPACs for all funding years for which invoices are to be paid.  Note:  Although service providers are no longer involved in the BEAR invoicing process, USAC will not pay applicant BEARs unless SPACs have been filed by the associated service providers.
  3. Applicants must file Form 498s (in EPC), and have those forms approved by USAC, before USAC can transmit BEAR payments to the applicants’ banks.
  4. In a limited number of cases, BEAR payments for applicants will still be processed through the associated services providers (see Option 1 in the “BEARs in Transition” article above).
  5. Remittance statements on BEAR reimbursements deposited directly in applicants’ bank accounts will be emailed to the “Remittance Contact” in the applicants’ Form 498s.  The statements will show the dates and amounts of the funds transferred.

    E-Rate Schools & Libraries Remittance Statement
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.