E-Rate News Flash 21-08

E-Rate
  Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Issue 21-08

June 16, 2021

E-rate News Flash

Contents:

Announcements

FCC Announces Application Window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced the application window for the new Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The 45-day application window will open June 29, 2021 and will close August 13, 2021. The FCC will host a public information session on the Emergency Connectivity Fund on Friday, June 25 @ 11 a.m. PT. The event will stream live at  fcc.gov/live. Questions can be sent in advance to ECFwebinar@fcc.gov. More information on ECF may be found on the FCC’s website at https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund.

Emergency Connectivity Fund Training and Information

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the K12 High Speed Network (K12HSN) have recently hosted webinars on two new programs initiated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this spring which are designed to provide funding for broadband access at home to sustain remote learning. The webinar recordings and materials concerning the Emergency Broadband Benefit and the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) are posted on K12HSN’s website at https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/ecf.

On June 24, 2021, the CDE and K12HSN will host an additional webinar on the Emergency Connectivity Fund. We will outline best practices on performing needs assessments to support the application and reimbursement processes as well as answer frequently asked questions regarding the anticipated ECF application window which will open over the summer. To register, please visit https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYtceyvqDsoGdJjKYQ3W77EtbOb8kx6nbD5.

USAC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Website and Trainings

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has posted its new Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) website and a series of webinars to kick off the program. You may view the website here: https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/ and sign up for webinars here: https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/training/live-sessions/.

FCC Announces Tracking Dashboard for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

As of June 7, 2021, the FCC announced that 2.3 million households have signed up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. This program, targeted to qualifying low-income households, provides a $50 per month benefit on monthly Internet service from participating broadband providers, and a $75 per month benefit for qualifying households on tribal lands. USAC has developed a tracking dashboard to report the amount of claims filed to date as well as other information regarding qualifying households. The tracker may be viewed at this website: https://www.usac.org/about/emergency-broadband-benefit-program/emergency-broadband-benefit-program-enrollments-and-claims-tracker/. The EBB program will remain in place for 6 months after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, or until available funds are exhausted. The program is currently capped at $3.1 billion. More information on EBB is available at these websites:

Important June E-rate Deadlines

June 25 is Final Extended Invoice Deadline for Funding Year 2019 Recurring Services

Due to COVID-19, the FCC automatically extended the deadline for invoicing for Funding Year 2019 recurring services to February 25, 2021.  Applicants and service providers that then requested and were approved for an additional single one-time 120-day extension now have a final invoice deadline of June 25, 2021. Any additional invoices filed after June 25, 2021, will not be accepted by USAC and will require an approved waiver from the FCC of the invoice deadline extension rule. Note that the FCC will only issue waivers of the invoice deadline for extraordinary circumstances.

Complete and Certify Any In-Process FCC Forms 470 by June 25

The FCC Form 470 for Funding Year 2022, required for competitive bidding of new contracts and/or services, will be made available in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) on July 1, 2021. Any applicants that may be initiating a competitive bidding process prior to July 1 and have drafted a Funding Year 2021 FCC Form 470 must certify that form by June 25, 2021. After that date, any draft Forms 470 will be deleted as the system changes over to the new form.

June 30 Deadline for Category 1 Special Construction

Funding Year 2020

The deadline for completion of special construction for Category 1 services for Funding Year 2020 is on or before June 30, 2021. Applicants seeking support for special construction related to Category 1 services must request a one-time extension of the June 30 service delivery deadline by demonstrating that construction was unavoidably delayed due to reasons beyond the Applicant’s and/or Service Provider’s control. Applicants who have received Funding Commitment Decision Letters for their 2020 special construction funding request(s) may obtain this one-time extension by filing an FCC Form 500 for the associated FRN(s) on or before the June 30 deadline. Applicants that have 2020 funding requests that have not yet received a funding commitment decision must still file a request for extension on or before the June 30, 2021 deadline. Please see USAC’s June 4, 2021 Schools and Libraries News Brief for more information on how to file Special Construction extensions: https://apps.usac.org/sl/tools/news-briefs/preview.aspx?id=1012.

Funding Year 2019

It is important to note that USAC may only authorize a single one-year extension for special construction funding requests. For applicants who may have received this extension for 2019 funding requests, the extended deadline for delivery of services is June 30, 2021. If services are not installed and operational by this deadline, the applicant should file a waiver request with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under proceedings 02-6 and 13-184 and explain what extraordinary circumstances prohibited timely installation and delivery of services. Please see USAC’s website for guidance on filing a waiver request with the FCC: https://www.usac.org/about/appeals-audits/appeals/.

USAC Audit Announcements

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has initiated multiple audits of E-rate school and school district applicants in the past few weeks. Audit notifications are typically sent to the Superintendent or Chief Official of the organization and require a response within 10 business days. It is important to cooperate with the requests of the auditors and to ask for more time, if it is necessary, to provide the required documentation. K12HSN has a recorded webinar which describes the audit process and E-rate program documentation retention requirements. You may view the recording and materials under the General E-rate Topics section at this website: https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/training.

Summer Deferral Period Begins for Program Integrity Assurance Review

USAC’s Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviewers are working diligently to keep the application review process moving quickly in an effort to fund as many applications as possible prior to September 1, 2021. It is important to be aware of the option to place the review of your FCC Form 471 on hold using the summer deferral option since we are now nearing the time of year when many schools will have limited personnel available.

Placing the FCC Form 471 on summer deferral will pause the review process until early September, when the review will begin again. If your organization will be closed for the summer and/or limited resources will be available to answer questions from USAC PIA reviewers, applicants must perform the following for each FCC Form 471 in order to activate the summer deferral option:

1. Navigate to the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) portal and log in. The portal can be found at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/resources/e-rate-productivity-center/.

2. Scroll to the bottom of the “Landing Page” and look for the header “FCC Forms and Post Commitment Request.”

3. With Radio Button “FCC Forms” selected, proceed to select “FCC Form 471” under Form Type.

4. Select “2021” under Funding Year. This will generate a list of FCC Forms 471.

5. Select the desired form by clicking on the hyperlink found in the Application number. This will open the application and display a new menu across the top of the screen.

6. Select “Related Actions,” then select Apply Summer or Winter Deferral.

7. Repeat steps 1-6 for each FCC Form 471 for which you want to apply the summer deferral option.

California Funding Commitment Summary

Funding Year 2021

For Funding Year 2021, California applicants have successfully submitted 5,588 funding requests for $374 million. California applicants requested $230 million for Category 1 services and $144 million for Category 2 services. To date, USAC has committed $132 million for California applicants.

Funding Year 2020

As of June 3, 2021, California applicants have successfully submitted 9,084 funding requests for $371 million. To date, USAC has committed $319 million for California applicants.

Pace of Commitments

The overall pace of commitments in terms of funding committed versus requested for California applicants in FY 2020 is comparable same period in the previous year.

 

 

FY 2020 Status  as of 06/03/2021

 

Requested

Approved

 

Funding Requests

Funding Requested

Approved

Requests

% of Requested

Funding Approved

% of Requested

C1

4,166

$234.1 M

3,892

93%

$213.0 M

91%

C2

4,918

$137.4 M

4,330

88%

$106.2 M

77%

Total

9,084

$371.5 M

8,222

90%

$319.2 M

86%

 

 

 

Versus FY 2019 as of 06/03/2020

 

Requested

Approved

 

Funding Requests

Funding Requested

Approved Requests

% of Requested

Funding Approved

% of Requested

C1

3,811

$246.1 M

3,568

94%

$223.9 M

91%

C2

4,385

$112.2 M

3,625

83%

$78.3 M

70%

Total

8,196

$358.3 M

7,193

88%

$302.2 M

84%

 

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.

Waves #

FCDL
Date

Form 486 Due Date

 
 

1-40

05/09/2020-1/28/2021

Deadline passed for services starting July 1, 2020

 

41

02/04/2021

06/04/2021

 

42

02/11/2021

06/11/2021

 

43

02/18/2021

06/18/2021

 

44

02/25/2021

06/25/2021

 

45

03/4/2021

07/02/2021

 

46

03/11/2021

07/09/2021

 

47

03/18/2021

07/16/2021

 

48

03/26/2021

07/24/2021

 

49

03/31/2021

07/29/2021

 

50

04/08/2021

08/06/2021

 

51

04/15/2021

08/13/2021

 

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

 
 

1-79

04/27/2019-
12/16/2020

Deadline passed for services starting 07/01/2019

 

86

04/07/2021

08/05/2021

 

87

0428/2021

08/31/2021

 

 

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.

Upcoming Training Events

Numerous training opportunities available for E-rate applicants are available or are coming soon.

Universal Services Administrative Company Recorded Resources

E-rate Resources

USAC has pre-recorded webinars and other materials available at its website at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/learn/. In May, USAC conducted three new webinars which are now posted on its website:

  • Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) Review and Selective Review
  • E-rate Invoicing Dataset and Tool Demo
  • Customizing the E-rate Invoicing Dataset

Emergency Connectivity Fun Resources

USAC has announced four new webinars on the Emergency Connectivity Fund. You may view the webinars and register at this website: https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/training/live-sessions/.

  • Wednesday, June 16 @ 11 a.m. PT: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview Webinar for E-rate Participants
  • Thursday, June 17 @ 11 a.m. PT: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview Webinar for New (Non E-rate Participants)
  • Thursday, June 17 @ 1 p.m. PT: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview for Tribal Applicants
  • Wednesday, June 23 @ 1 p.m. PT: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview for Potential Applicants

State Educational Technology Directors Association Ask the State Experts E-rate Training Series

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), a non-profit membership association that supports U.S. state and territorial leaders in advancing education through effective digital learning policy and practice, has announced a new E-rate training series “Ask the State Experts.” These virtual trainings are designed to support the applications and implementation of the E-rate program for school, district, and library leaders, and will further support the processes, rules, and strategies for applicants to be successful in maximizing the available reimbursements for Funding Year 2021. Please visit this website for more information on the series: https://www.setda.org/events/webinars/eratetraining/.

K12 High Speed Network E-rate Resources

Spring Webinar Series

K12HSN is currently hosting complimentary “E-rate Lunch and Learn” noon-hour webinars which focus on the E-rate process after the filing of FCC Form 471 as well as on the new Emergency Connectivity Fund. These webinars will include tips and best practices geared specifically to California schools. Recordings may be viewed at the following link: https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/training.

  • Submitting Corrections & Understanding and Responding to USAC's Reviews | Recording posted
  • Category 1 SPIN Changes & Service Substitutions | Recording posted
  • Funding Commitment, FCC Form 486, and Children's Internet Protection Act | Recording posted
  • Preparing for E-rate Audits and Understanding Audit Process | Recording posted

The Summer training schedule will be posted soon.

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 2022 E-rate cycle. You may access the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GTZWHLV.

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.

Extensions: The FCC extended the gift rules waiver twice. The first extension was to December 31, 2020, and the second to June 30, 2021. 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 orders at the FCC’s website https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-1021A1.pdf and https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-1479A1.pdf.