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January 21, 2019

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.

FY 2019:

The Form 471 application window for FY 2019 opened on Wednesday, January 16th, and will close at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 27th.  Some applications which have been certified are already being shown with an “In Review” status.  The administrative window, allowing applicants to update their entity profiles, was closed and locked at the end of the day before the window opened (see article below).

FY 2018:

USAC issued Wave 41 for FY 2018 on Wednesday, January 16th, for $9.47 million.  Cumulative funding as of Wave 41 is $2.10 billion.

Administrative Window Closed – Entity Profiles Locked:

The night before the FY 2019 application window opened, USAC closed the administrative window and locked EPC entity profiles for the duration of the application window.  The purpose of this lockdown is to assure consistent entity data, not only for school applicants submitting multiple applications, but for consortium and library applicants whose discounts are dependent upon each consortium member’s data or each library’s associated school district data.

Applicants attempting to update entity data during the application window will receive the following EPC message:

E-Rate EPC Entity Profile Locked

With EPC entity profiles now locked, applicants will be unable to make any additional entity updates until approximately April following the close of the application window.  At this point, applicants with out-of-date entity profiles have several options.

  1. Applicants still needing to file Form 470s should clearly indicate proper entity details in the Form 470 narrative sections and in any associated RFPs.
  2. Similarly, applicants filing Form 471 applications are encouraged to include corrected information in the narrative of any affected FRNs.  Upon submission of a Form 471, more detailed entity corrections can be submitted via a RAL Change.
  3. Applicants may request entity updates from the Client Service Bureau (“CSB”) or via customer service cases.  CSB may or may not be able to accommodate such changes depending upon the status of FY 2019 applications, completed or underway, referencing those entities.

Missing Form 471 User Guide:

As shown in the Forms section of the USAC website, most E-rate forms are associated with detailed user guides.  The FCC Form 470 User Guide, for example, is a detailed 39-page PDF manual.  It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that there is currently no comparable guide for the Form 471, the most complicated of the E-rate forms.  There is a hotlink to a webpage entitled FCC Form 471 User Guides, but this provides only the briefest description of the Form 471 and links to Category 1 and Category 2 bulk upload templates.

Currently, the best source of instructional information on the Form 471, for filers willing to devote the time, is the FCC Form 471 Video Series, two sets of videos — one set for Category 1 and another for Category 2 — ranging in length from three to fifteen minutes and each set covering the following topics:

  • Starting Your FCC Form 471
  • Creating Funding Requests
  • Certification

For the more adventuresome filers establishing test system login credentials, USAC also provides an EPC Training Site permitting users to experiment with all aspects of the EPC system, including Form 471 creation, on a trial basis.

Upcoming E-Rate Dates:

January 22 Form 486 deadline for FY 2018 funding committed in Wave 24.  More generally, the Form 486 deadline is 120 days from the FCDL date or the service start date (typically July 1st), whichever is later.  Other upcoming Form 486 deadlines are:

Wave 25            01/28/2019
Wave 26            02/04/2019
Wave 27            02/11/2019

Note:  Applicants missing any Form 486 deadline should watch carefully for “Form 486 Urgent Reminder Letters” in their EPC News Feed.  These Reminder Letters afford applicants 15-day extensions to submit their Form 486s without penalty.

January 28 Invoice deadline — and the deadline for requesting a 120-day extension — for FY 2017 non-recurring services.
February 26   Extended invoice deadline for FY 2017 recurring services.
March 27 Close of the FY 2019 Form 471 application window.

USAC’s Schools and Libraries News Brief of January 18, 2019 summarizes what is new with the FY 2019 version of the Form 471 application.  The changes include:

  • Voice services, which are no longer eligible at any discount level, are not included as a service option.
  • Category 1 connectivity questions are no longer included in the Form 471.
  • An additional option has been added for Category 1 special construction projects to indicate the availability of state match funding for non-fiber networks.
  • Three new options — “License,” “Transceiver,” and “Module” — have been added to the Category 2 dropdown menu.
  • Bulk upload templates for Internal Connections have been updated to match the dropdown options on Category 2 requests.
  • The certification confirmation page now includes a link to the Form 471 record.