Collapse All

February 20, 2017


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 34 for FY 2016 was released last Thursday, February 16th, for a total of $35.1.  Approximately 115 FCDLs were issued in Wave 34.  Cumulative national funding through Wave 34 is $2.19 billion.  Overall, 6.6% of all applications remain pending.  Wave 35 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, February 23rd.

The FY 2017 application window will open on Monday, February 27th, at 12:00 noon EST and is scheduled to close on Thursday, May 11th, at 11:59 p.m. EDT.  Applicants needing to update their EPC entity profiles for FY 2017 application purposes must complete that process by Sunday, February 26th at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Entity Profile Updates:

February 26th is the last day on which applicants can update their EPC entity profiles.  As of the next day, USAC will be locking entity profiles for the duration of the application window.  Please note that February 26th is a Sunday, a highly unusual occurrence for an E-rate deadline.  The last business day to update profiles is Friday, February 24th!

Information on USAC’s rationale for establishing a new entity profile deadline, and on the basic review and update process required by applicants, is available in our newsletter of February 6th.  A few additional points should be noted.

  1. All fields in an existing entity profile, including the entity’s name, can be edited during the update period.  In the past, changes to some of these fields required intervention by USAC’s Client Service Bureau (“CSB”).  Changes now take place immediately within EPC.  Name and address changes within the legacy Entity Search database, however, are not shown until the following day.
  2. Adding a new entity — most importantly, adding a school to a school district or a library to a library system — requires action by CSB.  This can be done via a Customer Service request or a telephone call (888-203-8100).  As far as we know, CSB is maintaining normal working hours during the entity update period.  This means that the deadline for adding new entities is currently 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday, February 24th.
  3. Consortia should check the following:
    1. Confirm that all members are properly linked to the consortium.  Once EPC is locked down, it cannot be used to add consortium members.  Consortia seeking to add members during the application window lockdown period will require special assistance from CSB.
    2. Confirm that all school or school district members have updated their own entity profiles.  Special attention should be paid to consortium members who are not planning to file individual applications on their own.
  4. Information on existing annexes cannot be edited.  The only annex operations permitted within EPC are:


    To correct annex information, remove the existing annex and add the “new” annex.

BEAR PIN Mailings:

Access to the online BEAR system requires a unique PIN tied to the filer’s email address.  New users must first request a PIN from CSB.  USAC’s normal process, once a PIN request is approved, is to mail the PIN to the user.  Although almost all other E-rate correspondence is electronic, USAC deems the distribution of sensitive PIN information by mail to be more secure.

The problem at the moment, however, is that USAC mails PINs in batches.  We understand that the next batch of PIN mailers is scheduled for release on February 27th.  This will be awkward for some filers who are trying to meet the February 27th extended deadline for submitting BEAR invoices for FY 2015 recurring services.  Mailed PINs won’t be received until a few days later — too late.  The only solution at that point will be to appeal to USAC.

A better solution before February 27th — i.e., this week — is to call CSB and specifically request that the PIN be emailed.

Upcoming 2017 E-Rate Deadlines:

February 23 Form 486 deadline for FY 2016 funding committed in Wave 18.  More generally, the Form 486 deadline is 120 days from the FCDL date or the service start date (often July 1st), whichever is later.  This means that Form 486 deadlines for funding commitments received in later waves will follow at roughly one week intervals, including the following February-March deadlines:

Wave 19        02/28/2017
Wave 20        03/07/2017
Wave 21        03/17/2017
Wave 22        03/21/2017
Wave 23        03/28/2017

Applicants missing these (or earlier) deadlines should watch carefully for “Form 486 Urgent Reminder Letters” (actually emails directing the applicants to EPC News Feed items).  The Reminders will afford applicants with 15-day extensions from the date of the emails to submit their Form 486s without penalty (see USAC News Brief of November 4th).

February 26 School and school district deadline for updating EPC profiles in preparation for the FY 2017 application window.  USAC will lockdown entity profiles while the application window is open.  It is critical for districts to make sure that new schools are added to their EPC profiles by this deadline.
February 27 Extended — and effectively final — invoice deadline assigned to FY 2015 recurring service FRNs for approved IDERs granted last year.

FCC Decision Watch:

Having now apparently returned to its monthly schedule, the FCC issued another set of “streamlined,” precedent-based decisions in Public Notice DA 17-279. In summary, the FCC:

  1. Dismissed:
    1. Five Requests for Review or “Waiver” that, as appeals, should have been filed first with USAC.
    2. Five Requests for Waiver deemed as moot for fully-disbursed and/or approved FRNs.
    3. Four Petitions for Reconsideration deemed to rely on arguments fully considered and rejected by the FCC.
  2. Granted:
    1. One Request for Waiver involving a late-filed Form 486.
    2. One Request for Review and/or Waiver granting a partial year invoice payment on an FRN whose Service Start Date had been adjusted as the result of a late-filed Form 486.
  3. Denied:
    1. One Request for Expedited Waiver involving an applicant’s failure to properly consider the price of eligible items as the primary factor in the vendor selection process. The applicant argued that it had ultimately accepted the lowest priced option — often the basis for a successful waiver — but the FCC apparently found that a comparison of eligible-only costs would have yielded a different result.

The Request, submitted less than two weeks prior, asked for expedited treatment to facilitate rebidding the service for FY 2017 if necessary. The FCC acceded to the request for a quick decision, but clearly not with the applicant’s preferred outcome.

The subtlety in this case is that one bidder provided two prices for Internet service, both with and without Distributed Denial of Service (“DDoS”) protection. The other bidders included DDoS protection as a bundled service. To be fair, the applicant compared all bids with DDoS protection, bundled or not. The FCC deemed unbundled DDoS protection as ineligible. Apparently, the applicant should have cost-allocated out the DDoS portion from the bundled prices of the other bidders for an eligible-only price comparison, and/or created a separate evaluation factor for the inclusion of DDoS protection.

    1. Multiple related Requests for Review by 35 archdiocese schools for improper vendor involvement — filing of the Form 470s — in the competitive bidding.
    2. Seven more Requests for Waiver for invoice deadline extensions.
    3. Four Requests for Waiver for Form 471 applications filed more than 14 days late, absent “special circumstances.”
    4. Two late-filed Requests for Waiver.


USAC’s Schools and Libraries News Brief of February 17, 2017, discusses the two limited waivers of the FY 2017 Eligible Services List (“ESL”) recently granted by the FCC.  The waivers affect applicants dealing with connections between multiple buildings on contiguous properties and/or between schools sharing the same building.  For additional information, see our newsletter of February 13th.

The News Brief also reminds applicants of the February 26th deadline for updating entity profile information (as discussed above in greater detail).