E-Rate News Flash 20-16

E-Rate
  Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Issue 20-16

October 7, 2020

E-rate News Flash

Contents:

Announcements

Second FY2020 FCC Form 471 Application Window Filing Tips

As mentioned in our previous News Flash, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the opening of a second Funding Year (FY) 2020 filing window to allow schools to request additional E-rate funding specifically to address increased on-campus bandwidth needs due to COVID-19. In its last three Schools and Libraries News Briefs, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has provided guidance and answered frequently asked questions about the second FY2020 application window. Most notably, schools applying during this second window should be aware of the following:

  • Eligibility is limited to schools that meet the following minimum requirements:
    • Schools or school districts have already sought bids for the services by posting an FCC Form 470;
    • Schools or school districts received a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) from USAC approving a funding request for Category 1 internet access and/or data transmission services that relied on that FCC Form 470 or they have such a request pending with USAC; and
    • Schools or school districts are requesting additional E-rate discounts on an FCC Form 471 during this second window to purchase additional bandwidth through their existing service provider or a new service provider.
  • If schools have a previously certified FCC Form 471 for increased bandwidth for Category 1 Service related to COVID-19 and it is currently considered “Out of Window,” schools should certify a new FCC Form 471 during the second filing window which closes on October 16, 2020 at 8:59 P.M. Pacific Time.
  • Schools should provide detailed Funding Request Narratives to help expedite the review of their second window FY2020 Form 471 applications.
    • Include original FY2020 FCC Form 471 Number and Funding Request Number (FRN)
    • Include a statement confirming the request is for additional bandwidth related to COVID-19.
    • Include information regarding the cost per megabit or gigabit and highlight the difference between the original and upgraded services.
    • Include a description if it is an increase to an existing circuit or installation of a new circuit.
    • Clarify if service is for the same service provider or new service provider. Note that the applicant is expected to seek the upgraded service first from its original service provider but may request service from a different service provider if the original service provider is unable to provide the upgrade.
    • Lastly, and if applicable, explain if service is for a different service type (i.e. changing from Copper to Fiber).

To view USAC’s September 18, September 25 and October 2, 2020 News Briefs please visit: https://www.usac.org/e-rate/resources/news-brief/.

Additionally, K12HSN has recorded a recently-held webinar reviewing the requirements of the second filing window which may be viewed on its website at: https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/training.

Reminder that Off-Campus Use of E-rate Funded Services Requires Cost Allocation

In its March 23, 2020, Community Use of E-Rate-Supported Wi-Fi is Permitted During Closures Public Notice and its September 16, 2020, Second E-Rate Application Window for Funding Year 2020 Order, the FCC confirmed its long-standing rule that off-campus use of E-rate funded services, even if used for an educational purpose, is ineligible for E-rate support. Program participants are to be aware that if they use an E-rate funded Internet connection or Wide Area Network connection to transport off-campus Internet traffic, that program rules require a cost allocation of their E-rate funding requests to remove the portion of funding associated with ineligible use. Cost allocations must be based on tangible criteria that reach a reasonable result. USAC outlines cost allocation requirements on its website at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/applicant-process/before-you-begin/eligible-services-overview/cost-allocations-for-services/. K12HSN will hold an informational webinar “Off Campus Use E-rate Guidelines” on October 29 to review E-rate use guidelines and best practices for cost allocation. Copies of the FCC’s March 23 Public Notice and September 16 Order may be viewed on the FCC’s E-Rate - Schools & Libraries USF Program website under the Daily Releases section at https://www.fcc.gov/general/e-rate-schools-libraries-usf-program#block-menu-block-4.

Reminder to Complete and Return K12HSN/CENIC Letter of Agency

As mentioned in our News Flash Issue 20-14, K12HSN is in the midst of collecting Letters of Agency (LOAs) for all schools and school districts that connect to the statewide California Research and Education Network (CalREN) and who have an expiring LOA as of June 30, 2021. To verify the status of your organization’s letter of agency, please visit this website https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/loa and select “Find out the status of your School District Letter of Agency here.” If your LEA’s letter of agency is set to expire on June 30, 2021, or has already expired, please contact Angela Jones to coordinate the processing of the LOA at ajones@icoe.org. K12HSN thanks all participants who have already responded to its request for updated LOAs.

California Funding Commitment Summary

Funding Year 2020

As of September 30th, 2020, California applicants have successfully submitted 8,879 funding requests for $363 million. To date, USAC has committed $214 million for California applicants. In its July 2020 Board meeting, USAC indicated that due to the extension of the FY 2020 FCC Form 471 filing deadline its target for processing all workable applications has been pushed from September 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020.

Pace of Commitments

The overall pace of commitments in terms of funding committed versus requested for California applicants in FY 2020 lags slightly versus same period in the previous year, primarily due to the slower processing of Category 2 (C2) applications. The pace of commitments for Category 1 (C1) applications exceeds that of the previous year.

 

 

FY 2020 Status  as of 09/30/2020

 

Requested

Approved

 

Funding Requests

Funding Requested

Approved

Requests

% of Requested

Funding Approved

% of Requested

C1

3,982

$225.6 M

3,138

79%

$172.3 M

76%

C2

4,897

$137.4 M

1,961

40%

$41.9 M

30%

Total

8,879

$363.0 M

5,099

57%

$214.2 M

59%

 

 

 

Versus FY 2019 as of 09/30/2019

 

Requested

Approved

 

Funding Requests

Funding Requested

Approved Requests

% of Requested

Funding Approved

% of Requested

C1

3,803

$246.1 M

3,160

83%

$186.1 M

76%

C2

4,385

$112.2 M

2,599

59%

$45.7 M

41%

Total

8,188

$358.3 M

5,759

70%

$231.8 M

65%

 

Pending Dates and Deadlines

E-rate deadlines may be viewed or calculated on the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) website at https://www.usac.org/sl/tools/deadlines/default.aspx.

FCC Form 486 Filing Reminder

The FCC Form 486 (Receipt of Service Confirmation and Children's Internet Protection Act Certification Form) notifies USAC that the billed entity and/or the eligible entities that it represents is receiving, or has received, service in the relevant funding year from the named service provider(s).

Funding Year 2020

FCC Form 486 must be filed 120 days from the date of the issuance of the Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) or the start date of E-rate eligible services, whichever is later. The First FCC Form 486 deadline for FY 2020 is October 28, 2020 for funding waves 1-8 with services starting July 1, 2020.

Waves #

FCDL
Date

Form 486 Due Date

 
 

1-8

05/09/2020-06/25/2020

10/28/2020

 

9

7/2/2020

10/30/2020

 

10

7/9/2020

11/6/2020

 

11

7/16/2020

11/13/2020

 

12

7/23/2020

11/20/2020

 

13

7/30/2020

11/27/2020

 

Funding Year 2019

For ongoing recurring services, starting on July 1, 2019, the following deadlines have passed or are approaching in the next two months.

Waves #

FCDL
Date

Form 486 Due Date

Extended COVID-19 Due Date*

 
 

1-44

04/27/2019-
1/30/2020

Deadline passed for services starting 07/01/2019

N/A

 

45

2/6/2020

6/5/2020

10/3/2020

 

46

2/13/2020

6/12/2020

10/10/2020

 

47

No California Approvals

 

48

2/27/2020

6/26/2020

10/24/2020

 

* For FCC Form 486 deadlines that fall between March 11, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the FCC directed USAC to provide applicants with an additional 120 days to submit these forms without penalty.

Applicants missing these or earlier deadlines should closely monitor their News Feed in the E-rate Productivity Center for an FCC Form 486 Urgent Reminder Letter notification. This letter will allow the applicant a 15-day extension to submit an FCC Form 486 without penalty.

E-rate Training Resources

Applicants may access multiple recordings and other supporting material at the following websites.

USAC Webinars

Recordings of previous webinars registration for upcoming webinars are posted on the USAC website at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/learn/webinars/.

USAC Fall Trainings

In its July 2020 Schools and Libraries Committee board meeting, USAC announced that it would not conduct any face-to-face training events this Fall as is typically the case. USAC indicated that Fall training events would be replaced by live virtual training events, topic-focused office hour webinars, and E-learning modules and videos. More information will be included in the News Flash as the details become available.

K12 High Speed Network E-rate Resources

Introducing Fall Webinar Series

Beginning October 2020, K12HSN will be hosting complimentary “E-rate Lunch and Learn” webinars for both Category 1 and Category 2 services. Webinars will be recorded and reposted at a later date.

Category 1 Webinar Series

Webinar Topic

Webinar Date and Time

Category 1 Eligible Services

Thursday, October 15 12:00 - 1:00 pm PT

Category 1 FCC Form 470 and Competitive Bidding

Thursday, October 22 12:00 - 1:00 pm PT

Category 1 Advanced Topics: Off-Campus Use E-rate Guidelines

Thursday, October 29 12:00 - 1:00 pm PT

Category 2 Webinar Series

Webinar Topic

Webinar Date and Time

Category 2 Refresh: Changes Effective FY 2021

Wednesday, October 21 12:00 - 1:00 pm PT

Category 2 Eligible Services

Wednesday, October 28 12:00 - 1:00 pm PT

 

Registration may be completed at the following link: https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/training.

 

 

Visit the K12 High Speed Network (K12HSN) website https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/training to access the E-Rate Training Roadmap and Resource Guide and supplemental training materials including recordings of previous webinars.

K12HSN E-rate Support Survey

The K12HSN E-rate support team would like your feedback regarding the E-rate training tools and resources made available on the K12HSN website. The survey will help determine priorities for outreach and training opportunities for the FY 2021 E-rate cycle. You may access the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GTZWHLV.

E-rate Process: Activities to Work on Now

Reviewing Contracts and Services for Upcoming FCC Form 470 and Competitive Bidding Cycle

For Funding Year 2021 applicants should begin reviewing their existing services and contracts to determine:

  • Is the existing service and contract valid for the duration of the 2021 funding year (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022)?
  • Does the existing service and contract meet the needs and expected growth anticipated in the 2021 funding year?

If the answer is ‘No’ to any of the questions above, applicants can further research their original procurement processes, establishing FCC Forms 470, and contract language to determine if services and contracts can be extended and/or amended.

The final Funding Year 2021 Eligible Services List is currently pending, however applicants can refer to the Funding Year 2020 Eligible Services List at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/applicant-process/before-you-begin/eligible-services-list/ to determine the services for which they may seek funding and begin a competitive bidding and FCC Form 470 process for Funding Year 2021.

Summary of Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate Response to COVID-19

This section of the News Flash summarizes actions taken by the FCC in the E-rate program in response to COVID-19.

Waiver of Various E-rate Filing Deadlines

In recognition of the unprecedented impact on schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC has waived and extended multiple E-rate deadlines as described below.

(1) Service delivery deadline for non-recurring: Any funding requests for non-recurring services with a September 30, 2020 deadline will receive an automatic extension to September 30, 2021. This primarily impacts the installation deadline for Category 2 Internal Connections and installation of Category 1 broadband services.

(2) Installation deadline of Category 1 special construction: The FCC requires that service is delivered and lit by June 30 of the funding year for funding requests that include one-time special construction of Category 1 broadband services, allowing for a single one-time, one-year extension request. The FCC has automatically extended the deadline for any special construction funding requests with a June 30, 2020 deadline to June 30, 2021.

(3) Appeal deadline: FCC rules require parties seeking review or waiver of a decision by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), either directed to USAC or the FCC, to submit their requests within 60 days from the date of the decision. This deadline has been extended to 120 days. This waiver will be in effect for parties seeking review or waiver of an adverse USAC decision with an appeal deadline between March 11, 2020 and September 30, 2020.

(4) Invoice filing deadline: The FCC will provide all applicants and service providers with an automatic 120-day extension of the invoice filing deadline for any funding request with an invoice deadline between March 11, 2020, and October 28, 2020.

(5) FCC Form 486 deadline: The FCC Form 486 deadline is 120 days from USAC’s issuance of the Funding Commitment Decision Letter, or 120 days from the start of service, whichever is later. For FCC Form 486 deadlines that fall between March 11, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the FCC directs USAC to provide these applicants with an additional 120 days to submit these forms without penalty.

(6) USAC review deadlines: The FCC also directs USAC to grant automatic 30-day extensions to the deadlines associated with USAC’s review of and outreach pertaining to the following forms and requests: FCC Form 471 Program Integrity Assurance (PIA), USAC appeals, invoices, FCC Form 500 requests, service substitutions, Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) changes, funding request cancellation requests, and program audits. After September

Extension for USAC review deadlines: The FCC has directed the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to grant 30-day extensions to the deadlines associated with USAC’s review of and outreach pertaining to the following forms and requests: FCC Form 471 Program Integrity Assurance (PIA), USAC appeals, invoices, FCC Form 500 requests, service substitutions, Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) changes, funding request cancellation requests, and program audits issued between September 11, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The 30-day extensions must be requested by the applicant with an explanation of their inability to respond due to school closures, lack of resources or other challenges due to COVID-19.

You may read the entire order addressing these extensions at the FCC’s website, https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-extends-key-e-rate-program-deadlines-due-covid-19-pandemic-0 and the Erratum further clarifying the deadlines at this website https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/041385109239. You may read a copy of the extension order at the FCC’s website https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-1021A1.pdf.

Reminder to Schools that the Community May Access On-Campus WiFi When Schools are Closed

In 2010, the FCC lifted restrictions to enable for community use of E-rate funded broadband services on a school’s campus while school is not in session. On March 23, 2020, the FCC reiterated that allowing for community access of WiFi on a school’s campus while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic is allowed under current program rules. However, the FCC declined to address allowing for the expansion of a school’s WiFi network beyond the school’s property line which is currently disallowed by E-rate program rules. You may read the entire public notice at the FCC’s website, https://www.fcc.gov/document/community-use-e-rate-supported-wi-fi-permitted-during-closures.

Waiver of E-rate Gift Rules

As mentioned in our previous News Flash, the FCC announced that it is temporarily waiving the E-rate gift rules through September 30, 2020. Due to the necessity for schools to acquire goods and services to meet increased broadband demand or to support connectivity to students at home while schools are closed, the FCC is waiving E-rate program gift rules to enable service providers to offer, and E-rate eligible schools to solicit or accept, broadband connections, devices, networking equipment, or other things of value that could help students and teachers affected by school closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Extension: The FCC announced the extension of its waiver of the E-rate gift rules due to COVID-19 from September 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020. As a reminder, this waiver is limited strictly to the offering and acceptance of broadband connections, devices, networking equipment, or other things of value that could help students and teachers affected by school closures during the coronavirus pandemic. Schools are expected to continue to follow the FCC’s competitive bidding requirements for the 2021/22 funding year and to not allow the acceptance of gifts to compromise their adherence to the rules of the E-rate program.

You may read the entire order at the FCC’s website https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-acts-support-telehealth-remote-learning-during-coronavirus. You may read a copy of the extension order at the FCC’s website https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-1021A1.pdf.