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September 14, 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 20 for FY 2020 was released on Friday, September 11th for a total of $75.3 million. (Wave 19 was canceled.) Cumulative commitments are $1.62 billion. Nationwide, USAC has now funded 88% of the FY 2020 applications representing 58% of the requested funding.

Short of fixing E-rate itself, the FCC has done its utmost to encourage others to fund equipment and services to support remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier efforts include:

  • The “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” urging broadband and telephone providers to: (a) not terminate residential service; (b) waive late fees; and (c) open Wi-Fi hotspots for those in need (see our newsletters of March 23rd and May 4th).
  • Waiver of the E-rate gift rules, recently extended through December 31st, to permit vendors to offer free or reduced-price broadband services and equipment (see discussion in last Friday's USAC News Brief referenced below).
  • Collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education to promote the use of up to $16 billion in CARES Act state funding for remote learning (see FCC/DOE joint announcement).

Last week the FCC issued a news release citing the launch of the “K-12 Bridge to Broadband” initiative undertaken by the cable industry and EducationSuperHighway to identify and fill the connectivity gaps of K-12 students in low-income family homes nationwide. Cable industry participation is being coordinated by NCTA – The Internet & Television Association. The new cable program reflects the following core principles:

  • Creating “sponsored” service offerings for school districts and other entities.
  • Working together with school districts to identify students needing service.
  • Standardizing a baseline set of student eligibility standards.
  • Minimizing the amount of information needed to sign up families and facilitate enrollment.
  • Protecting the privacy of the families covered by the program.

Upcoming E-Rate Dates:

October 12       Nomination deadline for six USAC Board members including one school representative (see our newsletter of August 17th).

USAC's Schools and Libraries News Brief of September 11, 2020 discusses the following three topics:

  1. Updates USAC's website fiber guidance to reflect clarifications made by the FCC in the recent Park Hill Order (DA 20-455) concerning the shared use of self-provisioned networks. The revised guidance notes:

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  2. Use of the extended gift rule waiver to support the provision of broadband equipment and services for remote learning. Most importantly, USAC notes that:

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  3. Tips for logging into the new One Portal for access to EPC and the BEAR filing system.