E-Rate Central News for the Week
March 5, 2012
The E-Rate Central News for the Week is prepared by E-Rate Central. E-Rate Central specializes in providing consulting, compliance, and forms processing services to E-rate applicants. To learn more about our services, please contact us by phone (516-801-7804), fax (516-801-7814), or through our Contact Us Web form. Additional E-rate information is located on the E-Rate Central Web site.
The FY 2012 Form 471 application filing window opened on January 9, 2012, and will close at 11:59 pm EDT on Tuesday, March 20, 2012.
Wave 37 for FY 2011 will be released on Tuesday, March 6th, for $37.9 million. Cumulative funding for FY 2011 will be $1.89 billion. Priority 2 funding for FY 2011 is currently being provided only at the 90% level.
Wave 88 for FY 2010 will be released on Wednesday, March 7th, for $5.9 million. Cumulative funding for FY 2010 will be $3.0 billion. Priority 2 funding is being provided at all discount levels.
E-Rate Updates and Reminders
Additional FCC Appeal Decisions:
The FCC continued its work to reduce its appeal backlog by releasing two new orders approving appeals for 9 applicants (DA 12-278) and denying appeals for 25 others (DA 12-250). The decisions all dealt with product or service eligibility and/or the categories of service under which the FRNs were filed. As has recently been the case, the appeals provided little information on the specifics of the appeals or on the rationale underlying the FCC's decisions.
Senator Snowe — the Mother of E-Rate — Set To Retire:
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced her intention to retire rather than seek re-election this year. Sen. Snowe, one of the less partisan members of Congress, stated that she was frustrated "that an atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions." Indeed, it was her bipartisan work with Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) on the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that led to the creation of the E-rate program. We will miss her continued enthusiastic support in the Senate.
Schools and Libraries News Brief Dated March 2 – "No 471" Notifications
Last week's SLD News Brief for March 2, 2012, announced a change in the process USAC has been using to warn — but more often confuse — applicants of the need to file timely Form 471s.
In recent years, a week or two after the last day to submit a valid Form 470 for the upcoming funding year (February 21st for FY 2012), USAC has mailed thousands (over 25,600 last year) of "Form 470 But No Form 471" letters to applicants who had filed Form 470s, but who had not yet filed Form 471s, reminding them of the upcoming application filing deadline. Unless read carefully and understood, these letters tend to generate a sense of panic among applicants that they were about to miss — or perhaps had already missed — a critical deadline. In truth, many applicants receiving these could not yet file their Form 471s, even if they wanted to, because their Form 470s had not yet been posted for the required 28 days. We have always believed that these letters are unduly confusing, wasteful, and a misinterpretation of the FCC's instructions and intent.
This year, USAC took a step towards reducing the wastefulness, if nothing else, of the notification process. Instead of physically mailing "Form 470 But No Form 471" letters to every Form 470 filer, USAC has e-mailed notifications to as many filers as possible using Form 470 contact or authorized signer e-mail addresses. Notification letters will continue to be sent to Form 470 filers for whom no e-mail addresses were provided. USAC indicated that notifications were or are being sent to filers of almost 27,500 Form 470s, all but about 700 by e-mail.
Applicants receiving these e-mails or letters should recognize that they have not been singled out for a special warning. Indeed, most prospective applicants for FY 2012 will have received the same warning. USAC, to its credit, did at least include the following disclaimer in its recent News Brief:
Please note: Applicants must still wait at least 28 days after the posting of the FCC Form 470 – or the public availability of a Request for Proposals (RFP), if one was issued – before closing the competitive bidding process, choosing a service provider, signing a contract (if applicable), and signing and submitting the FCC Form 471 by 11:59 pm EDT on Tuesday, March 20.
The SLD's News Brief also announced the schedule for this year's service provider training sessions (May 10th in Atlanta and May 15th in Los Angeles), and included several reminders for filing Item 21 attachments.