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February 27, 2023


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.

The FY 2023 Form 471 application window will close on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. EDT — see USAC’s E-Rate News Brief Dated February 16th.

E-Rate for FY 2022:

Wave 45 for FY 2022 was issued on Thursday, February 23rd, for $7.21 million.  Cumulative commitments to date are $2.83 billion.  Nationwide, USAC has funded 98.4% of the FY 2022 applications representing 95.5% of the requested funding.

ECF for 2021-2023:

Total commitments for all three ECF windows are $6.60 billion.  Nationwide, USAC has funded 85.3% of the ECF applications representing 67.4% of the requested funding.  Window 3 applications are now being funded down to the 65% rural band.  Reported disbursements as of last Friday were $2.85 billion.

The FCC sent a report to Congress this month summarizing the impact of the Broadband Interagency Coordination Act of 2020 (“BICA”), that directed the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) to take a whole-of-government approach to broadband deployment in the United States.  Congress directed the Agencies to coordinate specifically on the FCC’s high-cost universal service programs and programs administered by NTIA and the Rural Utilities Service within USDA.  An Interagency Agreement was signed by these agencies in June 2021.

Several other legislative enactments in this same timeframe also called for interagency consultation, coordination, and cooperation to ensure ongoing and future federal efforts to close the digital divide.  These include:

  • In March 2020, Congress enacted the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technology Availability (“DATA”) Act requiring the FCC to establish an improved, granular broadband deployment data collection and maps documenting broadband availability.
  • The Access Broadband Act (“ABA”), passed in December 2020, created the Office of Internet Connectivity & Growth (“OICG”) within NTIA to provide outreach and technical assistance to states and localities.
  • More broadly, Section 60105 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Infrastructure Act), enacted November 2021, requires that the FCC, “in consultation with all relevant Federal agencies, establish an online mapping tool to provide a locations overview of the overall geographic footprint of each broadband infrastructure deployment project funded by the Federal Government.”
  • In May 2022, the FCC, USDA, and NTIA entered into a joint Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Information Sharing (“MOU”) with the U.S. Department of Treasury covering programs administered by Treasury including the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

The FCC’s interagency report notes that whereas the Agencies have had significant success in addressing potential duplication in their programs, several factors have made this process challenging.  The primary problem is that each of the Agencies’ programs has unique features and constraints, such as differing speed performance thresholds, timelines, and/or geospatial standards.  In some instances, these differences are statutorily prescribed and in others they are the result of an agency’s exercise of its discretion.

Based on public comment, the report recommends the following:

  • The Agencies should continue to work, within the constraints established by the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable law, to identify and implement standardization in broadband data.
  • The Agencies, along with all of the federal funding agencies, should look for opportunities to increase visibility into coordination efforts between the Agencies.
  • The Agencies should consider revising the Interagency Agreement and the MOU to establish a consistent review process that includes a minimum period of time for all agencies to review proposed funding before a funding agency makes final commitments.
  • Broadband funding agencies should explore how best to complement existing funding mapping efforts with data from state and local entities on their broadband funding programs.
  • The Agencies should establish an expedited process to add other agencies — including Treasury — to the MOU, to ensure a quick pathway to coordinate the efforts of all other agencies that administer funding programs and develop related policy goals.

Missing entirely from the report’s discussion on interagency coordination is: (a) the role of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021; and/or (b), the October 2022 U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) finding that additional federal coordination is needed to enhance K-12 school cybersecurity.  Indeed, the word “cybersecurity” appears nowhere in the FCC’s Broadband Interagency Coordination report.  One can only wonder how seriously the FCC will take the many comments recently received urging E-rate support for cybersecurity equipment and services (see our newsletter of February 20th).

Upcoming Dates:

February 27 Extended invoice deadline for FY 2021 recurring services (applicable only for those applicants and service providers that had applied for an extended deadline on or before October 28, 2022).
February 28     Last possible date — please do not wait until then — to file a Form 470 for FY 2023 in order to: (a) meet the 28-day posting period; (b) close the bidding process and select the winning bidder(s); (c) sign any necessary contract(s); and (d) file the Form 471 application(s), all on the last day of the application window.
March 3 The Form 486 deadline for FY 2022 Wave 29.  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 30               03/10/2023
Wave 31               03/17/2023
Wave 32               03/23/2023
Wave 33               03/31/2023
March 28 Close of the FY 2023 Form 471 application window at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
March 30 Reply comments due on requests to allow the use of E-rate funds for advanced or next generation firewalls and/or other network security services (DA 22-1315).