Collapse All

August 10, 2015


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 (516-801-7810), or through our Contact Us web form. Additional E-rate information is located on the E-Rate Central website.

Wave 12 for FY 2015 will be released on Friday, August 14th. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 as of Wave 11 is $1.03 billion.

Wave 63 for FY 2014 will be released on Wednesday, August 12th. Funding for FY 2014 is available for Priority 1 services only. Priority 2 funding has been denied at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2014 is $2.27 billion.

This article is the fourth in a series of updates on USAC’s new online E-rate portal system, the “E-rate Productivity Center” or “EPC” (pronounced “Epic”). The EPC portal will ultimately be used for all electronic E-rate news, contacts, and filings. Most immediately, EPC must be used by all applicants seeking to file Form 470s for FY 2016. It is important, therefore, for applicants (and their consultants if they use one) to get their EPC accounts established as early as possible in the FY 2016 application cycle.

One of the first things an applicant should check once its EPC account has been established is the list of associated entities. To do so, from the basic applicant page, click on “Related Entities” in the left-hand column. This will display a list of entities, ten to a page. As initially displayed, the list is in no particular order, but it can be sorted by clicking on the column headings. Details on a particular entity, including entity number, can be reviewed by clicking on the organization’s name.

Ideally, the list of entities displayed will match the entity list from the applicant’s FY 2015 Form 471 application(s). Unfortunately, not all entities have been carried over into EPC. For the most part — although this does not appear to be an entirely consistent problem — the current EPC list appears to be missing non-instructional facilities (“NIFs”). USAC is aware of the missing entity issue, believes it has a solution, and hopes to correct the problem within the next couple of weeks.

Ultimately, to use the EPC portal correctly, the entity list needs to be correct — and to be updated over time as entities are added or deleted. In the short term, one use of the list as currently displayed is to generate the basic entity count in an applicant’s Form 470. To the extent that the actual entity count is not too different from the displayed entity count (usually the case), there should not be a problem. The actual entity count can be entered in the Services Requested table and/or the textual Narrative fields. Longer term — specifically by the time an applicant is ready to start a Form 471 for FY 2016 in the first quarter of next year — a corrected entity list will be required.

One problem with checking an EPC entity list, particularly for a larger applicant, is that there is no way to download the EPC list into a spreadsheet. The EPC listing, however, does indicate the number of entities, so the total can be easily checked. If there is a shortfall, the best way to identify the missing entities is to start with a printed copy of the entity list from last year’s Form 471 (either by using last year’s Block 4 upload template or by displaying and expanding the Discount Calculation section of an online FY 2015 Form 471), and comparing it to the EPC listing, ten entities at a time. (Hint:  First sort and print the EPC list alphabetically.)

There are several approaches to correcting an EPC entity list. The simplest may be to do nothing, trusting USAC to make corrections over the next couple of weeks. To be more proactive and immediate, entity changes can be made directly within the portal (albeit, currently, only by the account administrator). Alternatively, a list of additions (or deletions) can be electronically submitted from the EPC portal to USAC as a Customer Service Case.

USAC Fall Applicant Training:

As in recent years, USAC will hold eight regional one-day applicant training sessions this fall. Registration at this point is assured in only three of the locations. The full training schedule with registration links is as follows:

Washington, DC October 2 – registration (including waiting list) is full
Tampa, FL October 8 – available only on a waiting list basis
Albuquerque, NM   October 13
Minneapolis, MN October 20 – registration limited
New Orleans, LA October 29 – available only on a waiting list basis
Los Angeles, CA November 5 – available only on a waiting list basis
Philadelphia, PA November 10 – available only on a waiting list basis
Portland, OR November 16

The S&L News Brief of August 7, 2015, is the second in series of News Briefs discussing the basic process of filing a Form 470 for FY 2016.

The critical point to note is that a Form 470 for FY 2016 can be filed only through USAC’s new E-rate Productivity Center (“EPC”). To do so, an applicant must have an established EPC portal account.

Last Friday’s News Brief covers the following key steps involved in requesting Category 1 services:

  1. If a Form 470 has already been started (see the S&L News Brief of July 31, 2015), log into your EPC account and access your partly completed form.
  2. Choose your category of service. Note that unlike the case with a Form 471, a single Form 470 can be used for both Category 1 and Category 2 services. USAC will cover Category 2 Form 470s in a subsequent newsletter.
  3. If you are issuing an RFP, complete the first “RFPs for Service Requests” page. Note that any RFP(s) must be uploaded to the portal before you can submit the associated Form 470. You must also complete the second “RFPs for Service Requests” page to indicate whether the RFP(s) apply to all, or just a subset, of Category 1 requests.

    For purposes of the new Form 470, the term “RFP” can be defined quite broadly. Historically, there has been some confusion as to whether or not procurement information provided to potential bidders is technically considered a “request for proposals.”  “RFP” documents posted within the Form 470 portion of the new EPC portals can now include any useful information for bidders, e.g., network diagrams, entity address lists, etc.
  4. Complete one or more “Service Requests: Category One” pages for services requested. Note that considerably greater detail on entities, circuits, and capacity is required in the FY 2016 EPC version of the Form 470. The following is a real example of a set of Category 1 requests, including Narrative comments:
    E-rate Service Requests - Category One

The News Brief also notes that Form 470 requests for dark fiber services require you to indicate whether you are seeking an installment payment plan for the non-discounted portion of the construction charges.