[NHDOE-ETNews] ET News: E-Rate Updates

Freeda, Stanley Stanley.Freeda at doe.nh.gov
Mon Dec 31 08:00:54 EST 2012

Today on the ETNews Listserv

ITEM:  E-Rate Updates


Funding Status


The FY 2013 Form 471 application window opened Wednesday, December 12, 2012, and will close at 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, March 14, 2013.


Wave 24 for FY 2012 will be released on Thursday, January 3, 2013, for $52.0 million.  Priority 2 funding is being provided at 90%, and is being denied at 89% and below.  Cumulative funding for FY 2012 is $1.71 billion.


No other regular funding waves are scheduled for this week.


Anticipated E-Rate Developments in 2013:


The most important E-rate developments we expect in 2013 — or at least hope for — will involve new rules and/or clarifications from the FCC.  Since there may be a change in the chairmanship of the FCC as the President’s second term begins, the timing of any developments is uncertain.


The first major issue likely to be faced by the FCC is the immediate future of E-rate funding for Priority 2 services.  As discussed in our newsletter of December 17, 2012 <http://www.e-ratecentral.com/archive/News/News2012/weekly_news_2012_1217.asp#b2> , E-rate is facing the prospects of its own fiscal cliff in 2013 as Priority 1 demand continues to grow, squeezing the availability of funding for Priority 2, probably with less funding available for roll-over.  This may finally force the FCC to address the need for major changes in program funding, service eligibility, and/or a restructuring of the discount matrix.  Without changes, or an unexpected drop off in overall E‑rate demand, full Priority 2 funding at 90% appears unlikely.


Several issues, on which public comments have already been received, are awaiting FCC decisions.  These include:

1.	Further clarification on the Lowest Corresponding Price rules.
2.	The eligibility of bundled end-user equipment.
3.	Clarification on the “educational purpose” criterion as it applies to remote VPN equipment.
4.	Reform of the USF contribution system, affecting both E-rate and the other three Universal Service funds.


Additionally, there are other gray areas on which further clarification has been promised, but which may first require a public comment process.  These include:

1.	More formal FCC or SLD guidance on the eligibility (and/or cost allocation) of certain forms of Web hosting.
2.	The replacement of clearly interim guidance on discount rates and other procedures related to the nationwide implementation of the Community Eligibility Option.
3.	Further information on the applicability of the gift rules.
4.	CIPA compliance requirements dealing with student- and patron-owned wireless Internet devices brought into schools or libraries and, conversely, with the off-premise use of school- and library-owned devices.


It should be another interesting year for E-rate.  More broadly, we wish all the best for the New Year.


E-Rate Updates and Reminders


FCC Appeal Decisions Watch:


“Consistent with precedent,” the FCC issued three appeal decisions last week.  The first two granted requests from five applicants who had filed late Form 486s (DA 12-2049 <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-12-2049A1.pdf>  ), and from four applicants who did not have signed contracts in place before filing their Form 471s (DA 12-2052 <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-12-2052A1.pdf> ).  The third decision (DA 12-2057 <http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db1228/DA-12-2057A1.pdf> ), dealing with late-filed applications for FY 2012, approved eleven requests for review and denied six.


FCC Reforms the Rural Health Program:


The FCC released a Report and Order (FCC 12-150 <http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-12-150A1.doc> ) last week reforming a number of aspects of the Internet Access and Rural Health Care Pilot Programs, transitioning them into a new Healthcare Connect Fund.  While the changes do not directly affect the E-rate program, which is a separate Universal Service Fund, they may indicate new policy directions that the FCC might consider in any future E-rate reforms.  E-Rate Central’s summary of the key changes <http://www.e-ratecentral.com/pdfs/E-Rate_and_the_Rural_Health_Program.pdf>  includes the following points (and more):

*	A redefinition of “rural” based on Core Based Statistical Areas.
*	A reduction in the discount rate, “ensuring fiscal responsibility and maximizing the efficiency of the program.”
*	The eligibility of Internet2 membership fees.
*	The elimination of competitive bidding rules for funding requests up to $10,000, coupled with a requirement for formal RFPs for funding requests of more than $100,000.
*	An option to receive funding commitments on multi-year contracts covering up to three funding years.


From E-Rate Central Newsletter:  This newsletter may contain unofficial information on prospective E-rate developments and/or may reflect E-Rate Central’s own interpretations of E‑rate practices and regulations.  Such information is provided for planning and guidance purposes only.  It is not meant, in any way, to supplant official announcements and instructions provided by the SLD, FCC, or state education departments.  



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Stan Freeda

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