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September 14, 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 16 and Wave 17 for FY 2015 will be released on Monday, September 14th, and on Friday, September 18th, respectively. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 services at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 as of last week is $1.65 billion.

Wave 65 for FY 2014 will be released on Wednesday, September 16th. 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 eighth in a series of updates on USAC’s new online E-rate portal system, the “E-rate Productivity Center” or “EPC.”  We expect that this will be an ongoing series, so we have decided to stop numbering our EPC articles from this point on.

The highlight last week was the USAC webinar “Introducing EPC, the E-rate Productivity Center.”  The basic presentation outline was:

  1. Introduction
    1. Why move to a portal
    2. Advantages of a portal
  2. How to log in (with demo)
  3. How to create a new user (with demo)
  4. How to add a consultant (with demo)
  5. How to modify an Account Administrator (with demo)
  6. Where to go for help

A recording of last week’s webinar is available online (registration required). The video demos used in the webinar, as well as other EPC guides and tutorials, are available separately in USAC’s EPC resource center).

For existing EPC users, the webinar provides a useful review. For applicants who have no experience with EPC, the webinar provides a basic introduction. More importantly, it serves as a warning to new users that establishing an EPC account takes some work — and that navigating through the portal is not always intuitive.

One symbol discussed in the webinar that will not be intuitive for many users is:   EPC symbol

The webinar refers to this symbol as the “ellipsis and arrow” (“…↓”) — or, as we prefer, “????.”  In some web portals, now including EPC, this symbol means “more information.”  So far, we have seen “????” used only once in EPC, and only on the main “Organization Details” screen available to Account Administrators.

For applicant Account Administrators, the symbol appears as one of four action buttons in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Three buttons are labeled to Create a New User, Remove Existing User, or Manage User Permission. The fourth button is the “????” for more actions, including:

  • Manage Organization
  • Modify Account Administrator
  • Create a Customer Service Case
  • Manage General Contact
  • Manage Organization Relationships

For consultant Account Administrators, there are also four action buttons in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. The three labeled buttons can be used to Create a New User, Manage Organization, or Modify Account Administrator. The fourth “????” button is again for more actions, including only:

  • Manage General Contact
  • Create a Customer Service Case

Note that these functions — with the exception of “Create a Customer Service Case” — are currently available only to the Account Administrator. The applicant “Manage Organization” function, controlling entity and NSLP data, will become increasingly important during the Form 471 application process.

Initially, the Account Administrator is the person who first set up the EPC account — who may not be the person who will be most involved in day-to-day E-rate activities. EPC permits an Account Administrator to create new account users, and then transfer the administrative role to another user. Currently, however, the Account Administrator designation cannot be assigned to non-applicant personnel. This restriction is a serious drawback for applicants using consultants, and who would normally expect their consultants to assume most of the work associated with managing their EPC accounts. USAC is expected to expand EPC account management ability of other users, including consultants, hopefully by October. Until that time, the best consultants can do is to provide an advisory role in EPC account management.

Upcoming E-Rate Training and Deadlines:

September 30th Service delivery deadline for FY 2014 non-recurring (e.g., installation) services. Requests to extend this service delivery deadline, due to circumstances beyond the applicants’ or service providers’ control, must be submitted on or before the September 30th deadline.
October 2nd USAC will conduct the first of this fall’s eight regional applicant training sessions in Washington, DC. Although registration (including the waiting list) for this session is full, copies of the training materials should be available online a day or two before this first session. The remaining seven USAC training sessions will occur approximately weekly from October 8th through November 16th. The full USAC training schedule is available online. Registration at this point is assured only in Albuquerque and Portland.
October 28th Invoicing deadline for FY 2014 recurring services. Applicants filing Form 472 reimbursement forms must allow time for these “BEARs” to be pre-acknowledged by the applicable service providers before the forms can actually be submitted. Requests to extend this invoicing deadline must be submitted on or before the October 28th deadline.
October 29th First Form 486 deadline for certifying the start of service (and CIPA compliance, if applicable) for FRNs approved for FY 2015 on or before July 1, 2015 (i.e., in Waves 1-6). On a going forward basis, the Form 486 deadline is 120 days from the later of the FCDL approval date or the start of service date.

The S&L News Brief of September 11, 2015, parallels much of the material presented in USAC’s webinar “Introducing EPC, the E-rate Productivity Center” (discussed above).

The News Brief also notes that last Friday, September 11th, marked the end of the summer period during which the SLD would defer application reviews if it was unable to contact the applicants (or their consultants). This is consistent with the SLD’s normal summer contact procedures which begin the Friday before Memorial Day and end the Friday after Labor Day.