E-Rate News Flash 22-01

E-Rate
  Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Issue 22-01

January 19, 2022

E-rate News Flash

Contents:

  • Announcements
  • Funding Commitment Summary
  • Pending Dates and Deadlines
  • E-rate and Emergency Connectivity Fund Training Resources
  • E-rate Process: Activities to Work on Now

Announcements

Funding Year 2022 E-rate Application Window Is Open

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has announced the Funding Year 2022 E-rate application filing window. Schools that wish to request E-rate funding for services received from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 must submit and certify an FCC Form 471 application in USAC’s E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) between Wednesday, January 12, 2022 and Tuesday, March 22, 2022. This is one of the earliest filing deadlines on record for the past few years. Schools are encouraged to create an internal timeline of events and necessary tasks so as to keep on track to meet the March 22 submission deadline.

Upcoming CDE and K12HSN Webinars

The California Department of Education and K12HSN will be holding two webinars in the upcoming weeks to review timely topics in the E-rate and other FCC programs supporting broadband.

Mandatory E-rate Bidding Portal Rulemaking: Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific

Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcucuygrDorGNLbyD0eLglHvfdPaqopIIX- 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing to implement new competitive bidding rules for E-rate program participants including a mandatory third-party bidding portal administered by USAC. Proposed rules include the following:

  • Requiring all service providers to submit bids to USAC via the portal rather than directly to schools; USAC will hold bids and release them to the schools after the mandatory 28-day bidding period expires
  • Prohibiting any communications between bidders and schools outside of the bidding portal during the competitive bidding period
  • Requiring all competitive bidding documents, inclusive of evaluations, to be uploaded into USAC’s portal before the annual FCC Form 471 application is certified

Before the FCC implements new rules, it asks for public comment on the proposals and how the proposed rules may help or hinder program participation. This webinar will review the proposed rules, discuss how they might impact California’s schools’ ability to effectively participate in the program, and best practices on submitting comments to the FCC. The proposed rules may be viewed at this website: https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-looks-promote-fair-open-competitive-bidding-e-rate-program-0.

ECF and EBB to ACP: Friday, February 11, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. Pacific

Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkceCgqTgiH9G9t6xzr4IqYxw7MybISQ6j

This will be webinar number six in the series on the FCC’s temporary COVID-19 programs and the transition to a longer-term program that will support broadband affordability. The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) provided a one-time funding resource for purchase of broadband plans and devices for students and teachers to support remote learning. The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) provided a monthly broadband subsidy to qualifying low- income households. We will discuss key learnings on the programs to date and what is next in terms of the possible extension of the ECF program and the transition to the longer-term Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Previously recorded webinars in the series may be viewed at https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/ecf.

California Department of Technology Announces CALNET 3 Contract Extensions

The California Department of Technology (CDT) makes available certain contracts which may be used by eligible public schools for E-rate eligible telecommunications and Internet services. The CDT has extended certain CALNET 3 contracts to December 31, 2023. The purpose of the extension is to allow contractors more time to transition customers off the CALNET 3 Contracts and on to the CALNET Next Generation contracts. For further information and to sign up for CALNET updates, please visit the CDT website at https://cdt.ca.gov/services/bb-calnet/.

CALNET Next Generation contracts, intended to replace CALNET 3, are available in the following categories that may be of interest for E-rate applicants: 20 – MPLS Data Network, 23 – Metropolitan Area Network Ethernet, 24 – Flat Rate Internet Services, 25 – Sustained Bandwidth Internet Service, and 30 – Broadband with Internet Services. Schools may visit the following websites for further information:

Schools are reminded that use of state master contracts like CALNET do not eliminate the necessity of complying with E-rate competitive bidding rules. Schools anticipating using the CALNET Next Generation contracts should carefully review the CDT requirements for eligibility and use of the contracts and should plan on conducting an E-rate compliant competitive bidding process for services for which they will seek E-rate funding.

K12HSN to Hold Winter E-rate Lunch and Learn Events

The K12HSN is holding multiple webinars and office hours in the next few months to help schools prepare for the annual E-rate application window which opened January 12, 2022 and closes March 22, 2022. These webinars and office hours are free to attend and are tailored specifically for California schools. You may register for the events by clicking the links below, or by visiting K12HSN’s website at https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/training.

  • Webinar: Filing FCC Form 471 for Category 1 Services, January 26, 2022, Noon

Register at https://icoe.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WRD9MP8RR5usryZ0q2kk4w

  • Webinar: Filing FCC Form 471 for Category 2 Services, February 2, 2022, Noon

Register at https://icoe.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_sMcoF7b-Q1SDOblXebTCRg

  • Office Hour: E-rate Filing Window Best Practices, February 16, 2022, Noon

Register at https://icoe.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gGVUIcIDRxC1TV12wIJPGQ

  • Office Hour: E-rate Filing Window Last Minute Tips and Preparing for Application Review, March 2, 2022, Noon

Register at https://icoe.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Pz-OAzf5Qa6IbVbr-Sdsag

California Funding Commitment Summary

Emergency Connectivity Fund

In the Emergency Connectivity Fund first and second application windows, California applicants requested over $923 million in funding. To date, USAC has issued $581 million in commitments for California applicants.

E-rate Funding Year 2021

For Funding Year 2021, California applicants have successfully submitted 5,644 funding requests for $375 million. California applicants requested $231 million for Category 1 services and $144 million for Category 2 services. To date, USAC has committed $316 million for California applicants.

Pace of Commitments

The overall pace of commitments in terms of funding committed versus requested for California applicants in FY 2021 exceeds the same period in the previous year.

 

 

FY 2021 Status  as of 1/13/2022

 

Requested

Approved

 

Funding Requests

Funding Requested

Approved

Requests

% of Requested

Funding Approved

% of Requested

C1

3,757

$231.0 M

3,527

94%

$215.4 M

93%

C2

1,887

$144.0 M

1,423

75%

$101.0 M

70%

Total

5,644

$375.0 M

4,950

88%

$316.4 M

84%

 

 

 

Versus FY 2020 as of 1/13/2021

 

Requested

Approved

 

Funding Requests

Funding Requested

Approved Requests

% of Requested

Funding Approved

% of Requested

C1

4,222

$234.1 M

3,736

89%

$201.5 M

86%

C2

4,918

$137.4 M

3,843

78%

$87.5 M

64%

Total

9,140

$371.5 M

7,579

83%

$289.0 M

78%

 

E-rate Funding Year 2020

As of January 13, 2022, California applicants have successfully submitted 9,140 funding requests for $371 million. To date, USAC has committed $329 million for California applicants.

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.

January 28, 2022 Invoice Deadline

The deadline for invoicing of Funding Year 2020 non-recurring services is January 28, 2022. This is the last date an applicant may file an FCC Form 472 Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) form or a service provider may file an FCC Form 474 Service Provider Invoice (SPI) for E-rate reimbursement without an extension.

One-Time Request for Extension

Applicants or service providers may request a single one-time 120-day extension to file additional claims for reimbursement. However, the Invoice Deadline Extension Request must be submitted to USAC on or before the January 28, 2022 deadline. Requests received after this deadline cannot be processed by USAC. There is no penalty to file an extension request, and all requests that are filed by the deadline will be granted. If you are in any doubt as to whether or not invoicing is complete on a Funding Request, it is best to file the request for extension. Once approved, the final invoice deadline is May 31, 2022. More information on how to submit extension requests may be found on USAC’s website at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/applicant-process/invoicing/invoice-deadline-extensions/.

February 25, 2022 FINAL Invoice Deadline

The FINAL, extended deadline for invoicing of Funding Year 2020 recurring services is February 25, 2022. This is the last date an applicant may file an FCC Form 472 Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) form or a service provider may file an FCC Form 474 Service Provider Invoice (SPI) for E-rate reimbursement. USAC is unable to extend this deadline further; schools and service providers seeking additional time to invoice must file a waiver request with the FCC. Schools and service providers may look up the status of invoicing submissions via USAC’s E-Rate Invoice Disbursements Data Lookup Tool located at https://opendata.usac.org/stories/s/E-rate-Tools/bneq-mh8b/.

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 2021

The first FCC Form 486 deadline for FY 2021 was October 28, 2021 for funding waves 1-11 with services starting July 1, 2021.

Waves #

FCDL
Date

Form 486 Due Date

 
 

1-22

04/17/2021-09/09/2021

Deadline passed for services starting July 1, 2021

 

23

09/16/2021

01/14/2022

 

24

09/23/2021

01/21/2022

 

25

09/30/2021

01/28/2022

 

26

10/07/2021

02/04/2022

 

 

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

 
 

1-69

05/09/2020-09/08/2021

Deadline passed for services starting July 1, 2020

 

70

09/15/2021

01/13/2022

 

74

10/15/2021

02/12/2022

 

75

10/27/2021

02/24/2022

 

76

11/10/2021

03/10/2022

 

77

11/19/2021

03/19/2022

 

Funding Year 2019

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

Waves #

FCDL
Date

Form 486 Due Date

 
 

1-91

04/27/2019-
08/06/2021

Deadline passed for services starting 07/01/2019

 

93

09/24/2021

01/22/2022

 

95

12/08/2021

04/07/2022

 

96

12/29/2021

04/28/2022

 

97

1/12/2022

05/12/2022

 

 

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 and Emergency Connectivity Fund 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/webinars/ . In January, USAC is holding a number of webinars:

  • Eligible Services Office Hours: recording available
  • Competitive Bidding (FCC Form 470) and Guiding Statements Overview and Office Hour: January 18, 11:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Service Provider Selection and the FCC Form 471 Office Hours: January 20, 11:00 a.m. Pacific

Emergency Connectivity Fund Resources

USAC has conducted multiple office hour webinars for ECF. You may view the webinars and register at this website: https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/training/live-sessions/. The most recent session, held on December 16, 2021, was the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Reimbursement Webinar.

K12 High Speed Network E-rate Resources

Lunch and Learn Events

K12HSN is currently hosting complimentary “Lunch and Learn” noon-hour office hours and webinars which focus on the E-rate and ECF processes from beginning to end and are tailored for California schools. To sign up, or to access recordings and materials from the most recent webinars, please visit the following websites:

Office Hours

Office hours will include discussion on the latest news about the E-rate and ECF programs, important deadlines not to miss, and what to focus on now to ensure a successful E-rate and ECF application and reimbursement process. While each office hour has a theme, audience members are encouraged to participate and may suggest conversation topics in advance by e-mailing eratequestions@lists.k12hsn.org.

Pre-Recorded Webinars Archive

Pre-recorded webinars are available on a wide variety of topics and are available for view at https://www.k12hsn.org/archived-e-rate-webinars.

E-rate Process: Activities to Work on Now

Competitive Bidding: Responding to Service Provider Questions

As of July 1st, 2021, schools have been able to post an FCC Form 470 for Funding Year 2022. The FCC Form 470 provides a Description of Services Requested and opens the minimum 28 calendar day competitive bidding process. The competitive bidding process must identify the products and services a school is seeking so that potential service providers can review those requests and submit bids for them. Any additional documents, such as a request for proposal (RFP) must be uploaded onto the FCC Form 470 in the E-rate Productivity Center portal.

It is the school or school district’s responsibility to run an open and fair competitive bidding process.

  • All bidders must be treated the same.
  • No bidder can have advance knowledge or ‘insider’ information.
  • All questions received by the due date and due time must be answered.
  • All information must be shared with all potential bidders and all bidders must know what is required of them.

Schools should be aware that answering questions that may change the original scope of services and/or requirements outlined in the Form 470 and/or RFP may require the restart of the 28-day competitive bidding period and in some cases may also require the posting of a new FCC Form 470.

Most often, a new FCC Form 470 is required when:

  • The original FCC Form 470 was certified without attaching any RFP documents, but you have now issued an RFP document and need to attach it.
  • You did not post services for a specific dropdown menu service type, and now realize that you need to post for services in that dropdown menu service type.

We caution schools that if changes are significant, they must restart the 28-day clock. Schools must count out the 28 days outside of EPC and extend due dates accordingly.

Competitive Bidding: Completing Bid Evaluations and Awarding Services

Once the mandatory 28 calendar day competitive bidding process concludes, schools must carefully review and document their evaluation and service provider selection processes according to the rules of the E-rate program.

Evaluating Bids and Documenting the Selection Process

After you close your competitive bidding process, you must evaluate the bids received and choose the bid that is the most cost-effective. You may consider factors in addition to the price of goods and services in your evaluation. FCC competitive bidding requirements specify that the price of the E-rate eligible products and services must be the primary factor and must be weighted more heavily than any other single factor in the evaluation. For examples and guidance on constructing a bid evaluation please see USAC’s “How to Construct a Bid Evaluation” guidance at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/applicant-process/selecting-service-providers/how-to-construct-an-evaluation/.

If you receive only one response to your competitive bidding process, the response must still comply with the cost-effective requirement. If you receive only one response and determine that it is cost-effective, you must document it. This may be documented with a memo or email to yourself and placed in your records.

All competitive bidding documentation, including winning and losing bids, bid evaluations, and contract documents must be retained for a minimum of 10 years from the last date to receive service on the annual E-rate funding request or the end date of the contract, whichever is later.

What to Do if You Receive No Bids

If you do not receive any responses, you may solicit responses from service providers. If you currently receive service from a service provider, you can ask your current provider to submit information in response to your FCC Form 470. Again, you must document if no responses are received and if you continue services with your incumbent provider.

IMPORTANT: If your Form 470 had an associated RFP, please verify with your local rules and bidding procedures that an award may be issued for any single response or no response scenario. In some cases, local rules may require that you restart your competitive process.

Awarding Services

Schools and school districts may award and receive services under tariff, month-to-month or contracted terms. Under tariff or month-to-month terms, services such as digital transmission service or Internet access may not require a contract. However, we remind schools that they must post an FCC Form 470, open a competitive bidding process, wait 28 days, and evaluate responses for month-to-month or tariff services on an annual basis prior to filing the FCC Form 471. The contract award date reported on the Form 471 is the date that you select the service provider and should be documented in an evaluation matrix, e-mail, memo, or all of the above.

Services provided under a binding agreement, enforceable by law, between two or more parties for specific contracted terms with specific contracted rates are considered to be contracted services. If you posted an FCC Form 470 and signed a multi-year contract resulting from that posting, you may not have to post an FCC Form 470 or open a competitive bidding process for the remainder of the term of that contract. However, we caution applicants to check their contracts for any additions, increases, moves and/or changes to services that may require a posting of a new FCC Form 470.

Except for services to be delivered under tariffed or month-to-month arrangements, schools must have a contract or other legally binding agreement in place with the service provider before certifying an FCC Form 471. A verbal agreement is not considered a legally binding agreement under program rules. For additional information on contracts, please see USAC’s “Contracts” section at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/applicant-process/selecting-service-providers/contracts/.