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July 17, 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.

E-Rate for FY 2023:

USAC issued Wave 12 for FY 2023 on Thursday, July 13th, for $41.5 million.  Total funding is now $1.62 billion.  At this point, USAC has already funded 85.9% of the originally submitted applications representing 54.6% of the dollars requested.

ECF for 2021-2023:

Wave 29 for Window 3 was issued on Wednesday, July 12th, for $13.9 million.  Total commitments for all three ECF windows are $6.76 billion.  USAC has funded 89.5% of the ECF applications representing 68.7% of the requested funding.

Window 3 applications are being funded down to the 50% urban band but could go lower if more funding becomes available.  We encourage all applicants, which have been funded beyond their actual needs, to file Post-Commitment Requests (“PCRs”) to reduce their funding commitments and free up dollars for other needy ECF applicants.

Earlier this month, at the American Library Association’s national convention, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced her intention to propose a “Learn Without Limits” initiative.  If adopted, this initiative would make Wi-Fi on school buses and the loan of hotspots eligible for E-rate support (see our newsletter of July 3rd).  Last week, in a speech before the School Superintendents Association (“AASA”) and the Association of School Business Officers, (“ASBO”) the Chairwoman expanded upon her Learn Without Limits plan by proposing a three-year, $200 million, pilot cybersecurity program.  As proposed, the pilot would be funded within the Universal Service Fund but separate from the E-rate program.

The pilot program proposal follows an FCC notice issued last December seeking public comment on whether to add advanced firewalls or other network security services as E-rate eligible services.  Details of the proposed pilot have not yet been disclosed and would be subject to further comment in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  Interestingly, however, the pilot appears similar in scope to an earlier proposal put forth by Funds For Learning (“FFL”) and cited in last December’s notice for a three-year program to fund advanced firewalls and services including the following capabilities: intrusion prevention and detection (“IPS/IDS”); VPN; distributed denial-of-service (“DDoS”) protection; and network access control (“NAC”).  FFL further proposed that in the event demand exceeds available funds — a likely case if funding is limited to $200 million over three years — that pilot funding be prioritized to the applicants with the highest discount rates.

Funding for the proposed pilot is interesting.  As indicated in the FCC’s press release, the $200 million pilot program would be established “within the Universal Service Fund, but separate from the E-Rate program, to ensure gains in enhanced cybersecurity don’t come at a cost of undermining E-Rate’s success in promoting digital equity.”  Coincidentally — perhaps — in a Public Notice released last May, the FCC noted that USAC had projected that $440.22 million in unused funds were available for use in E-rate funding for FY 2023.  The FCC directed USAC to use only $250 million of the unused funds for FY 2023 but to reserve the remaining amount — $190.22 million — for “future use.”  The $200 million cybersecurity pilot may already have been largely funded.

Upcoming Dates:

July 20     The FCC’s monthly open meeting includes a vote on changes to the E-rate rules to make it easier for tribal libraries to apply.  It also seeks further comment on ways to simplify the application process for all E-rate applicants (see draft order and our newsletter of July 3rd).  A live webcast of the meeting will be available.
July 21 The Form 486 deadline for FY 2022 Wave 49.  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 50                07/28/2023
Wave 51                08/04/2023
Wave 52                08/11/2023
Wave 53                08/18/2023
The first Form 486 deadline for FY 2023, for FCDLs issued on or before July 1st — normally October 29th (which is a Sunday this year) — will be Monday, October 30, 2023.
July 27 USAC Form 470 webinar (details to follow).