April 18, 2022
E-Rate News Flash
Third Emergency Connectivity Fund Filing Window Opens April 28 and Closes May 13, 2022
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a third application window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The short, 15-day application window will open on April 28, 2022 and will close on May 13, 2022. ECF program funds may reimburse schools for the purchase of internet service and laptops or tablets necessary for students and teachers to participate remote learning activities away from school. This third application window is for purchases made on or after July 1, 2022 for a maximum 12-month period ending December 31, 2023.
ECF Third Application Window Webinar for California Applicants – New Date!
CDE will be hosting a webinar with K12HSN on Thursday, April 28, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. to review the ECF program and discuss how schools can navigate the application process. You may register at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3p91c5xZTxmvLvxMolemDQ.
Equipment and Services Eligible for Funding
The ECF was created by Congress in the American Rescue Plan Act with a one-time appropriation of $7.17 billion to provide schools with funding to support remote learning activities away from a school campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses may include:
- Broadband service to student and teachers’ homes
- Equipment such as WiFi hotspots, modems, and routers required to deliver broadband service
- WiFi on school buses
- End user devices such as laptops and tablets
Funding is limited to devices and broadband services and associated equipment for students and teachers with an unmet need. Schools must certify that without the ECF-funded device or service the student or teacher is unable to effectively participate in remote learning activities. Remote learning activities may include synchronous online instruction as well as completion of homework assignments. The FCC has been very clear in stating that ECF funding is not intended to support one-to-one initiatives where all students receive a connected device, regardless of need.
The FCC has established further limitations on what may be eligible for funding. The maximum reimbursement a school may receive for a laptop or tablet is $400. This limitation may be waived for devices for students with disabilities, but the school must file a request directly with the FCC to waive this limitation. Schools may only receive a maximum $250 reimbursement per hotspot device. Broadband service plans, when obtained from commercial providers, may be reimbursed in full, but are subject to an assessment of cost effectiveness. Construction of broadband networks is ineligible for ECF support unless the school can demonstrate that there is no commercial broadband service available that is sufficient for remote learning.
Currently, there is at least $1 billion in available funds for third ECF window applications. The total demand from applications filed in the first two windows was $6.4 billion. If the total demand filed in the third application window exceeds available funds, funding commitments will be prioritized for schools located in rural high poverty areas.
Preparing for the Third ECF Window – Schools That Filed in Windows One and Two
Schools who filed applications in the first and second windows may wish to file in the third window to supplement their requests to support remote learning in the 2022/2023 school year.
Although the FCC recently extended the deadline to receive devices, equipment, and broadband services approved under window one and two applications to June 30, 2023, schools may only request reimbursement for a maximum of 12 months of recurring broadband services under those approved funding requests. For example, if a school initiated its ECF-funded broadband services on February 1, 2022, the school may request reimbursement for these services for up to 12 months, through January 31, 2023, which will not carry them through the entire 2022/2023 school year. Therefore, the school may wish to file for additional ECF funding in the third window to sustain the broadband services through the end of the school year. Schools may only apply for up to another 12 months of broadband services, to be received by December 31, 2023, in their third window ECF applications. The program will not fund more than a cumulative 24 months of broadband services under a school’s applications filed in windows one, two, and three.
It is expected that the third window ECF FCC Form 471 application will include the same required fields to be completed in the ECF application portal on the Universal Service Administrative Company’s website. Schools may need to revisit and update the section on unmet needs, but are not required to conduct new surveys before they file their applications. Schools may not request duplicate funding for broadband service for the same period of time that will be covered under their approved window one and two applications and must be prepared to explain how their third window ECF funding requests are not duplicative. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) recommends that schools include in the narrative section of the ECF FCC Form 471 application information regarding services funded through first or second window requests, including the ECF FCC Form 471 application number(s) and the service end date(s) for these services that will be funded through the first or second window funding commitment, as well as the up to 12 months of new services being requested during the third application filing window. For continuing services, schools should also verify any contracts they entered into for the purpose of the first and second window applications will be valid for any services to be received under their third window applications. While the ECF program itself does not have competitive bidding requirements, schools must comply with state and local competitive bidding rules in making any purchases that will receive reimbursement through the ECF program.
Preparing for the Third ECF Window – Schools Filing for the First Time
For those schools who may not have heard of the ECF program or did not request funding in windows one and two, and wish to understand how they may use these funds to support remote learning, we encourage you to review posted materials and recordings of webinars held by the CDE and K12HSN that outline the basic program requirements at https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/ecf. Please also sign up for the upcoming webinar scheduled for Thursday, April 28, 2022 at 11:00 AM Pacific Time (PT) at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3p91c5xZTxmvLvxMolemDQ.
We also recommend that you attend and view webinars hosted by the ECF program administrator, USAC. USAC is holding three webinars to review ECF third application window requirements as well as other updates regarding ECF first and second window applications and reimbursements.
ECF Window 3 Information Session, April 26, 2022, 12:00 PM PT
ECF Window 3 Office Hours, May 03, 2022, 12:00 PM PT
ECF Window 3 Office Hours, May 10, 2022, 12:00 PM PT
You may sign up for and/or view these webinars at https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/training/live-sessions/.
Schools that participate in the E-Rate program and have access to the E-Rate Productivity Center in USAC’s application portal will automatically have access to the ECF application portal. Schools that do not participate in E-Rate but meet the eligibility requirements for E-Rate are also eligible to participate in the ECF program. Schools applying for the first time may kick start their process by taking the following steps before the application window opens on April 28:
- Verify eligibility by reviewing requirements on this website: https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/school-and-library-eligibility/ and https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/et/ft/eratentityvalidation.asp
- Create or verify your organization’s FCC Registration Number at this website: https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/userLogin.do
- Create or verify your organization’s USAC Billed Entity Number and gain access to the application portal by contacting USAC’s Customer Service Center at (888) 203-8100
- Register or verify your organization’s Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number and account in SAM.gov in order to receive direct federal program reimbursements from the Department of Treasury at https://sam.gov/content/home
The following videos provide an overview of how to obtain an UEI and register with SAM.gov:
Get a Unique Entity ID https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uv1YNAsINk
Entity Registration Core ID https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeZb5th5UAE
Additional ECF Information Resources
The FCC and USAC regularly push out new information regarding the ECF program on their websites. Please utilize these links to access official program information.
- FCC’s Website: https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund
- FCC’s Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs
- USAC’s Website: https://www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/
- Sign up for USAC’s ECF Newsletter: https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6296809/emergency-connectivity-fund/
K12HSN’s Spring E-Rate “Lunch and Learn” Webinar Schedule
K12HSN will continue its webinar schedule through the spring by offering free lunchtime events addressing the latest news in the E-Rate and ECF programs and other topics tailored to California schools. Please visit this website to sign up for and view materials and recorded sessions: https://www.k12hsn.org/resources/erate/training.
Office Hour: FCC Form 486 and CIPA, May 12, 2022, 12:00 PM PT
Office Hour: Receiving Services, Invoicing and Other Advanced Topics, May 26, 2022, 12:00 PM PT
Category 2 Implementation, Invoicing, and Deadlines, June 23, 2022, 12:00 PM PT
Participate in Annual National E-Rate Survey
An annual survey is being conducted which asks schools and libraries to contribute their opinions on and experiences with the E-Rate application process. The survey results will be tabulated and shared with Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the public this summer. The survey is available at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/22erate.
E-rate applicants are encouraged to complete the survey to share their thoughts and experiences; all responses are confidential.