The WCB announced on February 1 that it is seeking comment on several petitions requesting permission to use E-Rate program funds to support remote learning during the pandemic. The notice highlights three of the petitions, that together raise most of the issues covered by other Petitioners: a petition filed by a coalition of E-Rate stakeholders led by the SHLB Coalition and including SECA, a petition for waiver filed on behalf of the State of Colorado and one filed by the State of Nevada, the Nevada State Board of Education, and the Nevada Department of Education.
Comment Date: February 16, 2021
Reply Comment Date: February 23, 2021
On December 14, 2020 the FCC released an Order further extending E-rate program gift rule waivers through June 30, 2021 to provide relief to schools and libraries affected by COVID-19 and to enable service providers to continue supporting remote learning efforts. This extension permits service providers to continue to offer or provide, and eligible entities to continue to solicit or accept, products and services such as improved capacity, Wi-Fi hotspots, networking gear, or other things of value to schools and libraries, as well as teachers, students, school administrators, librarians and library patrons through the end of FY 2020.
The waiver is limited to offerings provided by service providers and solicited or accepted by E-rate eligible entities on behalf of students, teachers, or patrons while schools and libraries prepare for extended remote learning and remain fully or partially closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
Download DA 20-1479 PDF
On December 10, 2020, the FCC released an E-rate Invoice Order granting applicants and service providers 120 days after the receipt of an RFCDL, or the successful appeal of a previously denied or reduced funding request, to file any associated invoices.
In addition, the Order retroactively deals with outstanding invoice deadline issues by providing the following recourse:
The FCC’s Order includes a reminder that the rule change applies only to post-commitment requests or appeal decisions that result in an RFCDL and "applicants or service providers appealing partially approved funding requests should submit invoices for the partial funding before the original invoice deadline expires because USAC will not provide additional time to invoice if the appeal is denied.”
Download FCC 20-178 PDF
On November 30, 2020, the Wireline Competition Bureau released the eligible services list for funding year 2021 and authorized USAC to open the annual application filing window within 60 days after release of the Order.
Calendar Year 2020 has been a busy one for SECA. On November 20, 2020, SECA released its Year in Review summarizing their activities.
The Wireline Competition Bureau has provided additional guidance for calculating Category 2 budgets specifically concerning charter schools, independent schools with part-time students only, school buildings closed due to COVID-19 (either fully or partially), and cost allocation for the use of shared equipment by non-instructional facilities.
Download FCC Order DA-20-1218
In a press release dated September 16, 2020, the State E-rate Coordinators' Alliance (SECA) praised the FCC’s action to open a second E-rate FY 2020 filing window that will provide additional funding to schools whose on-campus Internet needs and costs have increased due to the COVID-19 emergency.
Download the Press Release
The FCC has announced the opening of a second application window to make available additional E-Rate funding to schools in funding year 2020 to purchase additional bandwidth needed to meet the unanticipated and increased demand for on-campus connectivity resulting from the pandemic. The window will close on October 16, 2020.
During this window, schools may submit an FCC Form 471 during the second funding year 2020 application window requesting E-Rate discounts without initiating a new competitive bidding process for the requested services if the applicant: (1) already sought bids for the services by posting an FCC Form 470; (2) received a Funding Commitment Decision Letter from USAC approving a funding year 2020 funding request for eligible category one Internet access and/or data transmission services that relied on that FCC Form 470, or has such a funding request pending; and (3) requests additional E-Rate discounts during the second application window to purchase additional bandwidth through the existing service provider or a new one.
Download News Release
Download FCC Order DA-20-1091
On September 4, 2020, the FCC released the results of its efforts to identify use of Huawei and ZTE equipment and services in U.S. telecommunications networks that receive support from the federal Universal Service Fund.
The Commission’s November 2019 order barring the use of USF support for the purchase of equipment and services from companies that pose a national security threat initially designated Huawei and ZTE as covered entities and directed Commission staff to conduct this information collection. In June 2020, the Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued final designations of Huawei and ZTE as posing national security threats to the integrity of communications networks.
This announcement includes a list of eligible telecommunications carriers, or their affiliates and subsidiaries, that have reported using at least some Huawei and ZTE equipment or services in their networks.
Although the burden is on these carriers to fix these problems, applicants using these carriers may want to seek assurances that corrective actions are being taken.
On March 18, 2020, the FCC temporarily waived the Commission's gift rules applicable to the RHC and E-rate programs to assist rural health care providers and schools and libraries affected by the pandemic. These waivers were set to expire on September 30, 2020.
In an order released on September 3, 2020 these gift rule waivers have been extended through December 31, 2020. The order also directs USAC to provide a 30-day extension to E-rate program participants impacted by the pandemic that request extension to respond to certain USAC information requests issued through December 31, 2020, including those related to PIA requests.
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