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May 9, 2022


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.

E-Rate for FY 2022:

Wave 3 for FY 2022 was issued on Thursday, May 5, 2022, for $94.3 million.  Cumulative commitments after three waves are $1.34 billion.  Nationwide, USAC has funded 73.0% of the FY 2022 applications representing 42.4% of the requested funding.

A special extended application window for new Tribal libraries closes on May 26th (see DA 22‑231 and our newsletter of March 14th).

E-Rate for FY 2021:

Wave 54 for FY 2021 was released on Friday, May 6, 2022, for $3.70 million.  Cumulative commitments stand at $2.63 billion.  Nationwide, USAC has funded 98.7% of the FY 2021 applications representing 95.3% of the requested funding.

ECF for 2021-2023:

USAC issued Wave 14 on May 5th for $38.8 million.  Total ECF commitments are $4.83 billion. Nationwide, USAC has funded 93.9% of filed applications. Authorized disbursements as of last Friday totaled $995 million.

The third ECF application window will close at 11:59 p.m. EDT this Friday, May 13th.  The FCC indicates that a minimum of $1 billion will be available to fund the same type of eligible equipment and services as in the original two windows but for delivery within the 18 month span from July 1, 2022, through December 31, 2023 (albeit capped at 12 months of service for recurring services).  For details, see DA 22-309, our newsletter of March 28th, and the FAQs in USAC’s most recent ECF newsletter referenced below.

E-rate consortium applicants will often choose to file separate applications for groups of members with the same discount rate rather than filing consolidated applications at average discount rates.  Doing so greatly simplifies the process of apportioning E-rate discounts to the individual consortium members.

Consortium member discount rates were not an issue in the first and second ECF windows (ECF‑1 and ECF-2) * because there were sufficient funds, with 100% reimbursements, to meet all valid requests and funding.

ECF-3, as my father was fond of saying, is a “different kettle of fish.”  Demand in the third application window is expected to exceed the remaining ECF funding.  In this situation, funding, although still at the 100% reimbursement level, will be available only to applicants in the higher discount rate bands based on the following matrix (see our newsletter of March 28th).

Emergency Connectivity Fund Prioritization Matrix

Funding availability for individual applicants will depend upon their individual discount rates as adjusted for urban and rural status.  Funding for consortium members, particularly those at different discount rates, will depend upon how USAC calculates and prioritizes consortium discounts.

To understand the problem, consider the example of a small, three-member, urban consortium with two members at 90% and one member at 50%.  Traditionally, that consortium would have an average discount of 77%.  The ECF-3 question is where would that consortium fall within the FCC’s funding prioritization scheme?

At present, the answer is uncertain.  There are several possibilities, namely:

  • At 77%, the consortium would rank above the 75% rural applicants but below the 80% urban applicants.  This could mean that a 50% discount urban consortium member would be funded when 75% or 65% rural applicants would not.
  • The FCC’s unstated rule might be that only priority matrix discount rates apply.  As such, the “77%” consortium would not qualify as 80% and thus must be considered as 60%, the next lowest urban discount band, for prioritization purposes.
  • The FCC might instruct USAC ignore the consortium average and instead look within the consortium and prioritize each member based on their own individual discount (assuming funding requests can be allocated accordingly).

Pending further guidance — probably unlikely at this stage in the application window — we encourage consortium applicants to avoid mixed-discount applications either by filing separate applications at different discount rates or, at a minimum, filing separate FRNs for different discount rates.  As illustrated below, this can be done within consortium applications that include fields for recipients of service.  We also recommend making full use of the Narrative fields.

ECF-3 Consortium Applications

Upcoming Dates:

May 10     Third of USAC’s three ECF information sessions at 3:00 p.m. EDT – Register.
May 13 Form 486 deadline for FY 2021 covering funding committed in Wave 40.  More generally, the Form 486 deadline is 120 days from the FCDL date or from the service start date (typically July 1st), whichever is later.  Upcoming Form 486 deadlines are:
Wave 41            05/20/2022
Wave 42            05/27/2022
Wave 43            06/03/2022
Wave 44            06/10/2022
May 13 The third ECF application window (see DA 22-309) will close at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
May 16 Comments due on the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry regarding the prevention and elimination of digital discrimination (FCC 22-21).  Reply comments are due June 30th.
May 26 Extended FY 2022 application window deadline for new Tribal libraries (see DA 22-231).
May 27 Reply comments due on the FCC’s proposal to create an E-rate competitive bidding portal (FCC 21-124).

USAC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Newsletter of May 3, 2022, repeats much of the same information as in last week’s newsletter including an important series of FAQs specifying suggested language in Form 471 Narrative blocks.

One new FAQ — useful because the answer is not immediately intuitive — reads:

How do I edit an incomplete ECF FCC Form 471 in the ECF Portal?
Under the “My Pending Tasks” tab of your ECF Portal dashboard, there will be a task to edit or resume the creation of your ECF FCC Form 471 application.  Please note, if you select the application in "My Forms and Requests” you can view what you have done but you cannot edit or continue your application.

The newsletter also includes the following Key Reminder on Duplicate Funding:

ECF rules do not permit applicants to receive duplicative support for the portion of the services and/or equipment that have already been reimbursed through other federal or state programs. Applicants must certify on the ECF Form 471 that they have not received funding through another federal or state program for the services and/or equipment for which they are applying for ECF support.  Please ensure that you are able to certify to the accuracy of this statement prior to submitting the ECF Form 471.

* To put this in perspective, just over one hundred consortia filed ECF applications in the first two windows with requests totaling $103 million.