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June 22, 2020

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.

Wave 7 for FY 2020 was released on Thursday, June 18th for a total of $54.3 million.  Cumulative commitments through June 18th are $963 million.  Nationwide, USAC has now funded over 67% of the FY 2020 applications received during the filing window representing about 33% of the requested funding.

Upcoming E-Rate Dates:

June 30   Extended deadline to calculate Identified Student Percentage (“ISP”) data for use with the Community Eligibility Provision (“CEP”) free school meal option.  The deadline for electing the CEP option for the 2020-2021 school year has also been extended to August 31st (see USDA’s COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #6).

FCC Decision Watch:

In a break from its tradition of issuing a set of month-end “streamlined” appeal and waiver decisions, or perhaps in addition to them, the FCC released a mid-month resolution (DA 20-624) granting waivers for 161 FY 2020 late-filed Form 471 applications.  Two-thirds of the waivers came on applications that were filed within 14 days of the close of the window — a standard FCC policy.  The remaining waivers were approved with the explicit explanation that the applicants’ late filings were “due to delays beyond their control” — most specifically attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Examples of the successful appeals — many simply referencing school closings — can be found online in the FCC’s Search for Filings under Docket 02-6.

Remote Learning Legislation Update:

There were encouraging developments in Congress last week when Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, released a legislative “Broadband Connectivity and Digital Equity Framework” to promote broadband deployment, enhance network security, and work to close the digital divide.  From an educational standpoint, the framework includes an explicit goal to “Ensure that students have access to broadband and necessary technologies to complete their homework remotely.”

The framework also stresses the need to support “our nation’s carriers, who have worked tirelessly to keep America connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, to make sure they are able to continue responding to their consumers quickly and safely.”  This objective aligns nicely with a letter that FCC Chairman Pai sent to Congress Friday supporting legislation to help consumers and small businesses stay connected as a way to extend the Chairman’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge that is codified in the House’s proposed HEROES Act (see our newsletter of May 18th).

With both houses of Congress — and more importantly, support from both Republicans and Democrats — perhaps we can see some progress on remote learning resources later this summer.

USAC’s Schools and Libraries News Brief of June 19, 2020 reviews recent changes to the three following E-rate search tools:

  • View an FCC Form 470 (FY2015 and prior):  This tool allows users to search for and view a single FCC Form 470 for FY 2015 or a previous funding year.  The user must first choose the funding year, and then enter one or more search criteria to narrow the search.  From the search results, the user can click the magnifying glass icon to the left of the entry in the Applicant Name field to view a specific form.

    View an FCC E-rate Form 470 (FY2015 and prior)
  • View an FCC Form 471 (FY2014 and prior):  This tool allows users to search for and view a Form 471 for FY 2014 or a previous funding year.  You must have the Form 471 application number to view the original version of the form, and the security code number to view the current status of the form.

    FCC E-rate Form 471 (FY2014 and prior)
  • SPIN Search Tool:  This tool allows you to search for a service provider by Service Provider Identification Number (“SPIN”) or service provider name to retrieve contact information and other information, such as the funding year(s) for which the service provider has a Form 498 on file with USAC.

    E-rate SPIN and BEAR Contact Search

Note that these tools have been moved to a new platform.  If you had previously bookmarked any of these tools, those bookmarks will need to be updated.

USAC also updated the format of the entire Tools page so that:

  • The top of the page now features a simple linked list of the tools.
  • The tool details now appear in a two-column list.
  • Informational documents appear in the tool descriptions.
  • The names of the tools have been standardized and simplified.