March 20, 2020
E-rate News Flash
Federal Communications Commission Response to Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has initiated multiple response measures in the last week to support our nation’s schools in their response to Novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Waiver of E-rate Gift Rules
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the FCC announced that it is temporarily waiving the E-rate gift rules through September 30, 2020. The E-rate gift rules prohibit schools from requesting or receiving anything of value from E-rate service providers. 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. The FCC will require E-rate program participants to retain records documenting the services, equipment, or other things of value that they receive pursuant to this waiver for 10 years, which is the documentation retention period required by 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.
Keep Americans Connected Pledge
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced that broadband providers nationwide have agreed to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge during the coronavirus pandemic. In this pledge broadband and telephone providers committed to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic; waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and open their Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them. Additionally, Chairman Pai called on all network operators to prioritize the connectivity needs of hospitals and health care providers and those that serve schools and libraries to work with them on remote learning opportunities. The FCC is updating its Coronavirus website, https://www.fcc.gov/coronavirus, on a regular basis with links to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge website https://www.fcc.gov/keep-americans-connected and other pertinent news.
Advocacy to the FCC to Help Fund At-Home Internet Access
As schools cope with finding means to support student Internet access at home while schools are closed, multiple advocacy efforts are underway to ask the FCC to utilize Universal Service Funds to help defray costs incurred by schools in their efforts to ensure all students have the Internet access necessary to facilitate distance learning at home. In a letter to FCC Chairman Pai, the Education and Library Networks Coalition (EdLiNC) urged the FCC to take “short-term, immediate action to allow E-rate beneficiaries to receive additional E-rate support to provide home wireless service to existing school devices and hotspots for students who lack internet access at home.” The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) also urged Chairman Pai to allow for schools to share their WiFi networks with the community without losing E-rate funding and to fund emergency funding for hot spot lending programs. Future Ready Schools has an online letter available at its website https://futureready.org/homeinternet/ where advocates may sign on to a request to the FCC to allow for E-rate funds to be made available to support student Internet access at home. You may review EdLiNC’s letter at this website https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/103122741829339 and SHLB’s letter at this website https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/1031709908887.
Extension of FCC Form 471 and Application Review Deadlines
As mentioned in our previous News Flash, the FCC directed the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to extend the deadline for E-rate applicants to submit their Funding Year (FY) 2020 FCC Form 471 applications by an additional 35 days. E-rate applicants will now have until Wednesday, April 29, 2020, at 8:59 p.m. PDT to submit their FY2020 FCC Form 471 applications.
Recognizing that E-Rate applicants undergoing Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviews may not be able to respond to PIA requests in a timely manner, the FCC directed USAC to provide all applicants with an automatic,14-day extension for PIA requests. The FCC encourages all applicants, to the extent practicable, to continue work on their applications and submit them as they are able, so that funding decisions can be made in a timely manner.
Additional Resources Concerning COVID-19
The California Department of Education has created a COVID-19 web page with guidance and resources which can be found at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/coronavirus.asp. Information regarding resources for internet connectivity can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1I259CmNTlfgzkclSin5zhGEzo2ZyElAa9o3OI6pop08.
Internet For All Now: The California Emerging Technology Fund has provided this link to affordable offers as well as a number to call (1-844-841-INFO (4636)) someone who can assist parents: http://www.internetforallnow.org/get_affordable_internet_today Specific offers by various providers throug...
Information and resources regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) and California's response.