March 3, 2022
E-Rate News Flash
FCC Extends the Time to Receive Services under the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program to June 30, 2023
Based upon feedback from multiple stakeholder groups, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has agreed to allow schools to use their approved Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program funding to purchase equipment, other non-recurring services, and recurring services through June 30, 2023, a one-year extension from the original June 30, 2022, deadline. This extension applies to ECF applications successfully filed in the two application windows in the summer and fall of 2021. Since the application periods closed it has become clear that factors outside of the control of schools could jeopardize their ability to fully utilize their approved funding. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the ECF program administrator, continues to process applications and make funding commitments, but delays in these commitments has meant that many schools were not able to purchase broadband services for use during the entire 2021/2022 school year. Further, supply chain issues have impacted schools' ability to source hot spots, laptops, and tablets.
Recognizing these factors, the FCC will allow for schools to utilize their approved funds for purchase of laptops and tablets, commercially-available broadband service and associated equipment, and WiFi on school buses through June 30, 2023 and to invoice the program for approved funds through August 29, 2023. The FCC's extension is automatic, schools are not required to take any action but may wish to revisit their funding requests and plan on how they might be used during the 2022/2023 school year. While the time to utilize the funding has been extended, schools should be aware that their funding amounts will not increase due to the extension. The FCC may also open a third application window for the ECF program, as there are available funds left in the Congressional appropriation, but has not announced any further application windows at this time.
It is also important to note that the deadline for construction of new networks or the provision of customer premises equipment for datacasting services will not change: the deadline to install and/or receive service is effectively one year from the date USAC issues the funding commitment decision letter.
USAC Issues ECF Reimbursement Checklists
Because ECF is a new program, USAC continues to provide guidance to the field on how to file for reimbursement on approved ECF funding requests. While schools are familiar with E-Rate reimbursement processes, schools are reminded that ECF is a completely different program and its reimbursement processes have unique differences and challenges. USAC made a concentrated effort to provide resources to assist program participants in understanding the ECF reimbursement process as well as guidance on how to resolve some of the frequently-encountered issues. Please visit USAC’s website to view the following:
- For schools - Request for Reimbursement ECF FCC Form 472 (BEAR) Checklist at https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/applicants/request-for-reimbursement-ecf-fcc-form-472-bear-checklist/
- For service providers - Request for Reimbursement ECF FCC Form 474 (SPI) Checklist at https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/service-providers/request-for-reimbursement-ecf-fcc-form-474-spi-checklist/
- Recordings of Webinar and Office Hours held in February at https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/training/live-sessions/
March 22, 2022 is E-Rate FCC Form 471 Deadline for Funding Year 2022
The FCC Form 471 filing deadline for Funding Year 2022 closes on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at 8:59 p.m. PDT. All applicants who are seeking E-Rate funding for eligible services delivered between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023, must file their annual FCC Form 471 funding requests in USAC’s E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) online portal by the March 22 deadline.
K12 High Speed Network E-Rate Resources
K12HSN’s E-Rate Support Team is available to assist schools with questions during the E-Rate FCC Form 471 application window. Schools may reach out to the team to request support by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The team’s recorded webinars and office hours specific to the FCC Form 471 window are available at K12HSN’s E-Rate training website https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/training and include:
- Filing FCC Form 471 for Category 1 Services (recording available)
- Filing FCC Form 471 for Category 2 Services (recording available)
- Preparing for E-rate Filing Window Office Hour (recording available)
- E-rate Filing Window Best Practices Office Hour (recording available)
- E-rate Filing Window Last Minute Tips and Preparing for Application Review Office Hour, March 11, 2022, 12:00 PM PT
The February 17, 2022, Issue 22-02 of the E-Rate News Flash contained an error in the “E-Rate Process: Activities to Work on Now” section. The first paragraph included an error in the FCC Form 471 deadline date and should be corrected to read: As the FCC Form 471 deadline approaches on March 22, 2022, applicants should allow for adequate time to complete the necessary information for their applications and to submit and certify them by the deadline to be considered “within window.”