E-rate Funding Year 17 (2017–18)
The E-rate application cycle for the 2017–18 year is upon us. Although the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has not yet announced the dates of the Form 471 window, they have hinted that the window may be shorter this year than ever before. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are encouraged to begin their bidding process now, in order to have sufficient time needed to properly receive bids, evaluate them and award a contract. The bidding process begins with submitting the Form 470 and any related bidding documents, such as the Request for Proposal (RFP). A video tutorial on how to navigate the E-rate Productivity Center’s (EPC) Form 470 can be found on the SLD’s Web page at http://www.usac.org/sl/about/outreach/fcc-form-470-video-series.aspx.
E-rate Funding Commitments for Funding Year 16 (2016–17)
USAC has been issuing Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDL) at a very steady pace. This is resulting in discounts being made available to LEAs that have received their FCDL. However, there have been instances of errors in the funding commitments. The errors happen for a variety of reasons, but most recently it has been due to lack of implementation of corrections made by the LEA through the Receipt Acknowledgment Letter (RAL) process. The error is not caused by the LEA. This issue has been called to the USAC’s attention and it is hoped that a solution will be implemented soon.
An LEA that receives an FCDL is encouraged to carefully review the FCDL to ensure the correct amount of funding, in the correct categories, has been issued. Should errors be found, the LEA has 60 days to file an appeal within EPC to request correction of the errors.
E-rate Category Two Budget
Starting in FY2015, requests for category two (C2) products and services are limited to a pre-discount five-year budget based on the number of students enrolled in a school. USAC recently clarified when the “five-year budget” starts calculating. The October 28, 2016 News Brief from the SLD states: “For a school district, the first year of the C2 budget for all of the individual schools in the school district is the first year, starting with FY2015, in which ANY individual school in the school district receives a positive commitment from USAC on a C2 funding request.”
The C2 budget approach has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a five-year test period, ending with the 2019-20 funding year.
We want to make LEAs aware of two key points in order to take full advantage of the E-rate program:
- If any schools in your district have received a C2 funding commitment from USAC, then the five-year budget cycle has started for all of the schools in your district.
- There are only three years remaining in the five-year test period for the C2 budget approach.
CALNET 3 Contract Extension
The California Department of Technology, manager of the CALNET 3 contract, has executed the first extension on CALNET 3 contract. This extension affects Subcategory 1.6, Legacy Communications. The new contract expiration date is June 30, 2018. Legacy Communications refers to services such as local voice services. A complete listing of services can be found on the CALNET 3 Web page at https://ebiznet.att.com/calnetinfoiii/Uploads/Link/ATT_CatB_1%206_Final_10-26-2016.pdf.
To effectively take advantage of this extension, in the EPC, each applicant should do the following in the Funding Year 2017-18 Form 471:
- In the Funding Request module refer to the same contract used in the Funding Year 2016-17 application (Note: Do not create a new contract in the Contracts module). Referring to the same contract that was used in the 2016-17 funding year will allow for a faster review of the Funding Request, according to USAC. The expiration date of a contract is only found in the Funding Request, eliminating the need to create a new contract record. Note that a new Authorization to Order (ATO) is not needed.
- In the Funding Request module enter the new expiration date within the Funding Year 2017-18 Funding Request.
The LEA may refer to the CALNET 3 Web page at http://www.otech.ca.gov/pdf/stnd/atrbulletins/2016/
ATR16-07_CALNET3_Contract_ExtensionforSubcategory1.6.pdf for supporting documentation of the extension.
Schools and Libraries Program Weekly News Briefs on E-rate
The SLD provides timely instruction and insight through their Weekly News Brief. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to sign up to receive these communications by visiting the SLD Web page at http://www.usac.org/sl/tools/news-briefs/Default.aspx.
If you have any questions, please contact the California Department of Education (CDE) Educational Data Management Division by e-mail at E-RATE@cde.ca.gov.