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E-Rate Central News for the Week
August 15, 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:

USAC released Wave 8 for FY 2016, totaling $74.9 million, on Friday, August 12th. Cumulative national funding through Wave 8 is $296 million.

FY 2015:

USAC will release Wave 61 for FY 2015 on Tuesday, August 16th. Cumulative funding through Wave 60 is $3.31 billion.

Updates on USAC’s E-Rate Productivity Center

Direct Connection Yes/No Questions:

One of the confusing aspects of the FY 2016 application process was finding the correct way — or at least any way accepted by EPC — to respond to the Yes/No connection questions.

This was particularly troublesome for applicants applying for Internet access into hub sites that were then distributed over WANs to other sites (as is typically the case with school districts or library systems). Technically, the answer to both questions should have been “Yes” — a direct connection to a single hub site and a connection providing WAN access to other eligible sites. EPC, however, expected combination answers of either “Yes” and “No,” or “No” and “Yes.”

EPC Connection Questions

To get through the application process, applicants had to select one Yes/No combination or the other. As result, application data for Internet connection service is corrupt — a situation USAC is now trying to correct through the PIA process.

We have recently seen the following more detailed and explanatory questions from PIA:

EPC Internet Connection Service Questions x

These questions still may not be completely clear, but they are better. At the very least, they will serve to open a dialoque with PIA to define connection service in more detail.

E-Rate Updates and Reminders

Invoicing and Payment Processes for FY 2016:

USAC issued a Special Edition News Brief dated August 8, 2016, alerting both applicants and service providers that USAC can now review, process, and pay invoices for FY 2016. As noted in our newsletter of August 1st, USAC had previously announced a delay in FY 2016 invoice processing, presumably the result of interface problems between the legacy-based invoicing system and the availability of funding data in the new EPC system.

In a related development, USAC also sent two Program Announcements to service providers:

  1. Referencing the new EPC Service Provider Technical Issue Tracker, first announced August 5th.
  2. Reviewing the status of electronic notifications for service providers. Most importantly, particularly for applicants seeking discounted billing, USAC indicated that service providers are now being sent, or have access to, in the same legacy file format:
    1. FCDL information for all FY 2016 funding waves; and
    2. Current FY 2016 Form 486 approvals. (Access to approval data on earlier FY 2016 Form 486s is still under development.)

USAC Fall Training Schedule:

USAC has posted the locations and dates for its annual fall training series on its Training & Outreach site. Registration information for these sessions will be provided shortly. For planning purposes, the schedule is:

      • Washington, DC Monday, September 26, 2016
Orlando, FL Thursday, October 6, 2016
Houston, TX Friday, October 14, 2016
Philadelphia, PA Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Minneapolis, MN Tuesday, November 1, 2016
St. Louis, MO Thursday, November 10, 2016
Seattle, WA Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Los Angeles, CA       Friday, November 18, 2016

Form 486 Deadlines for August:

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

        Wave 46      08/19/2016
        Wave 47      08/26/2016

The first Form 486 deadline for FY 2016 (Wave 1) will be October 31, 2016.

Schools and Libraries News Brief Dated August 12 – Form 498 Review Process

The S&L News Brief of August 12, 2016, discusses USAC’s review process for approving applicant Form 498s. This is a new form required as of July 1st for any applicant filing electronic BEARs. Since BEAR reimbursements are now being paid electronically to applicants, the primary purpose of the Form 498 is to provide the necessary bank account information to USAC. The News Brief reviews the following information requirements and processes:

  • Bank account number and bank routing number
  • FCC Registration Number (“FCC RN”) and Tax ID number (“FEIN”)
  • How to handle the change in status of certain applicant entities
  • USAC notification of Form 498 approvals
  • Common Form 498 problems
    • Transposed digits in bank account and routing numbers
    • Form 498 modification without re-certification
    • Lack of supporting documentation (e.g., voided check)
    • Inconsistent FCC RN and tax ID information
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.