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March 13, 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 47 for FY 2022 was issued on Thursday, March 9th, for $7.60 million.  Cumulative commitments to date are $2.84 billion.  Nationwide, USAC has funded 98.6% of the FY 2022 applications representing 96.1% of the requested funding.

ECF for 2021-2023:

Total commitments for all three ECF windows are $6.62 billion.  Nationwide, USAC has funded 85.3% of the ECF applications representing 67.4% of the requested funding.  Window 3 applications are being funded down to the 65% rural band.  Total disbursements as of the invoice batch, completed March 3rd, were $2.92 billion.

Upcoming Dates:

March 17     The Form 486 deadline for FY 2022 Wave 31.  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 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).
April 24 Due date for submitting comments on the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 23-10) to further improve E-Rate program rules and encourage greater Tribal participation (and potentially other small applicants) in the E-Rate program (see our newsletter of February 6th).  Reply comments are due by May 23rd.

FCC Sets E-Rate Funding Cap for FY 2023:

The FCC announced (DA 23-178) a 7.0% inflation-adjusted increase in the annual E-rate funding cap to $4.46 billion for FY 2023.  The announcement is a necessary, but largely ceremonial, step preceding the beginning of FY 2023 funding waves later this Spring. As a practical matter, total E-rate funding has remained well below the annual funding cap since first revised upwards to $3.9 billion for FY 2015 under the Second E-Rate Modernization Order (FCC 14-189), as shown in the table below.  Indeed, actual E-rate funding has been less than $3 billion for the last seven years — a point stressed in many of the FCC comments recently filed by the many advocates for E-rate eligibility of cybersecurity products and services.

Chart of inflation-based E-rate funding cap and usage

FCC Announces Targeted Funding for ACP Outreach:

The FCC announced (DA 23-194) the award of $66 million in funding to almost 200 organizations under the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program to help support ACP enrollment assistance.  This first series of awards are for the National Competitive Outreach Program ($60 million for 177 organizations) and the Tribal Competitive Outreach Program.  Forthcoming awards will be made for Your Home, Your Internet Outreach Grants and the ACP Navigator Pilot Program Outreach Grants.  All four programs are designed to enlist partners to assist the FCC in implementing innovative strategies to expand discount internet service in historically underserved and unserved communities.

As discussed in earlier newsletters, the ACP program, which provides internet discounts of up to $30 per month for low-income households, is a means for schools and libraries to ensure home internet access for students and patrons.  Although no schools and only four libraries were included in the awards announced last week, we encourage other interested schools and libraries to reach out to grant recipients in their areas to help promote ACP participation.

In addition to these developments last week, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel shared an additional Report and Order proposing a second, more targeted Notice of Funding Opportunity to raise awareness and promote the ACP as part of the FCC’s broader consumer outreach efforts.


Gigi Sohn Withdraws FCC Commissioner Nomination:

Gigi Sohn, twice nominated and subjected to Senate hearings to fill the fifth FCC Commission slot, withdrew her nomination after a long-running and contentious battle.  From an E-rate perspective, the Administration’s inability to add a third Democratic Commissioner is likely to delay consideration of the E-rate eligibility of Wi-Fi on school buses, as promoted by the Chairwoman.  Perhaps more importantly, the continued absence of a fifth Commissioner may slow FCC action on cybersecurity eligibility and, longer-term, on Universal Service Fund reform.

Confusing Message Sent in Error: registrants reported receiving a confusing email last week reading: confusing email

The Federal Service Desk website posted the following message indicating that had experienced an unexpected outage and that the system appeared to have generated false emails: message