FCC Establishing Orders
WC Docket No. 21-93.
Final rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.17 billion program,funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FCC also clarified CIPA requirements for school or library owned devices for off-site use.
WC Docket No. 13-184
The Second Modernization Order is intended to close the school and library connectivity gap by adjusting program rules and support levels in order to meet long-term goals for high-speed connectivity to and within all eligible schools and libraries. Increased the funding cap and expanded support to further support deployment of broadband connections including self-provisioning of fiber networks.
WC Docket No. 13-184.
The FCC hopes to accomplish three main goals with this Order: 1) Significantly expand funding for Wi-Fi networks and distribute it fairly to all schools and libraries while recognizing the needs of the nation’s rural and poorest school districts, 2) Maximize the cost-effectiveness of E-rate spending through greater pricing transparency and Encourage consortia and bulk purchasing, and 3) Better enforcement of existing rules as well as streamlining and simplify the E-rate application process and overall program administration
The FCC rescinds the guidance in the 2010 Clarification Order (See 2010 Clarification Order, 25 FCC Rcd 17324) regarding cost allocation requirements in the E-rate program. The FCC has determined that it is in the best interest of the Erate program and its participants to require E-rate recipients to cost allocate ineligible components that are bundled with eligible services and that may have been subject to the limited exemption provided by the guidance in the 2010 Clarification Order. Any information collected from applicants is limited to information explaining the cost allocation. Effective beginning with FY2015-16 applications.
Simplifies the Eligible Services List by combining Telecommunications, Telecommunications Services, and Internet Access categories of service into one section designated “Priority One” Services. The Order directs USAC, in conducting program integrity assurance (PIA) reviews, not to treat an applicant’s failure to correctly identify the type of Priority One service it is seeking on the FCC Form 470 as an automatic violation of the competitive bidding requirements. Applicants must still correctly categorize services on the FCC Form 471.
Clarifies the current CIPA rules and requires E-rate recipient schools (libraries are not included), per the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, to certify that they have updated their Internet safety policy to include provisions for educating minors about interacting on social networking websites and cyberbullying awareness. Includes footnote that schools are not required to block social networking sites.
Erate Correction Deadline Order: In this order, the Commission extends the deadline for applicants under the E-rate program to submit corrections of clerical or ministerial errors on their FCC Forms 470 and FCC Form 471 applications until USAC issues a funding commitment decision letter to the applicant.
In this order, the Commission clarifies that applicants must submit item 21 attachments to their FCC Forms 471 before the filing window deadline or their applications will be considered out of window. Effective with funding year 2011.
Sets framework regarding the eligibility of leased Dark Fiber, makes permanent the community use of schools’ E-Rated services, allows funding for certain residential facilities, indexes the funding cap to inflation and outlines the E-Rate Deployed Ubiquitously (EDU) 2011 Pilot Program. The Sixth Report and Order also attempts to streamline the E-Rate process for applicants by only requiring a technology plan for applicants requesting Priority 2 services, codifies that the competitive bidding process must be fair and open, outlines competitive bidding process rule violations, clarifies that gift giving must follow the stricter of state/local or FCC rules, includes stricter SPIN change rules will only allow SPIN changes if the existing provider cannot provide the service. SPIN changes can only be made to the second bidder from the original E-Rate bid evaluation for the applicable funding year. Finally, the disposal or resale of E-Rate purchased equipment is now permitted no sooner than five years after installation, and the Eligible Services List for FY 2011 is approved.
FCC adopts a rule to extend the deadline for receipt of non-recurring services from June 30, to September 30 following the close of the funding year.
The FCC addresses and seeks comment on issues regarding services eligible for E-Rate funding. Includes discussion on web hosting, unbundled warranties.
Sets framework regarding what amounts should be recovered by USAC and the Commission when funds have been disbursed in violation of specific statutory provisions and FCC rules; announces policy regarding the timeframe in which USAC and the FCC will conduct audits or other investigations relating to use of E-rate funds; eliminates the current option to offset amounts disbursed in violation of the statute or a rule against other funding commitments; extends red light rule previously adopted pursuant to the Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA) to bar beneficiaries or service providers from receiving additional benefits under the schools and libraries program if they have failed to satisfy any outstanding obligation to repay monies into the fund; adopts a strengthened document retention requirement to enhance ability to conduct all necessary oversight and provide a stronger enforcement tool for detecting statutory and rule violations; modifies current requirements regarding the timing, content and approval of technology plans.; amends beneficiary certification requirements; directs USAC to submit a plan for timely audit resolution, and delegates authority to the Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau to resolve audit findings; directs USAC to submit on an annual basis a list of all USAC administrative procedures to the Bureau for review.
Concludes that recovering disbursed funds from the party or parties that violated the statute or an FCC rule will further our goals of minimizing waste, fraud and abuse in the schools and libraries support mechanism; concludes that directing recovery actions to beneficiaries in those situations where the beneficiary bears responsibility for the rule or statutory violation will promote greater accountability and care on the part of such beneficiaries; directs USAC to make the determination, in the first instance, to whom recovery should be directed in individual cases.
Adopts rules that limit the ability of schools and libraries to engage in wasteful or fraudulent practices when obtaining internal connections; permits a particular eligible entity to receive support for discounted internal connections services no more than twice in every five years; prohibits a school or library from transferring equipment purchased with universal service discounts, as part of eligible internal connections services, for a period of three years except in limited circumstances; adopts a rule creating a more formal process for updating annually the list of services eligible for support; codifies USAC’s current practices for allocating costs of services between eligible and ineligible components; codifies a prohibition on the provision of free services to entities receiving discounts, and codifies with one modification procedures for service substitutions; clarifies existing requirements for eligibility of certain equipment and services; adopts rules to implement our prior decision to carry forward unused funds from the schools and libraries mechanism for use in subsequent funding years.
Modifies certain rules regarding eligible services; clarifies the statutory term “educational purposes” and that rules prohibit the funding of discounts for duplicative services; clarifies rules to ensure that wireless services are eligible to the same extent wireline services are eligible; modifies rules to make voice mail eligible for discounts; directs USAC to develop a pilot program testing an online list of internal connections equipment that is automatically eligible for discounts, provided the uses are eligible and all other funding requirements are satisfied; codifies the “30 percent” policy, which is a processing benchmark currently used by USAC when reviewing requests that include both ineligible and eligible services.
Adopts a framework for the treatment of funds collected for the schools and libraries support mechanism that have, through the normal operation of the program, not been disbursed.
Seeks comments to consider changes that would fine-tune rules to improve program operation; (2) to ensure that the benefits of Schools and Libraries support are distributed in a manner that is fair and equitable; and (3) to improve FCC oversight over this program to ensure that the goals of section 254 are met without waste, fraud, or abuse.
Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, CC Docket No. 96-45:
The FCC implements the mandate for universal service set forth in Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996; releases the Universal Service Report and Order implementing section 254 of the Act and establishing a universal service support system that became effective on January 1, 1998.
Congress directed the Joint Board to recommend, and the Commission to adopt, a new set of universal service support mechanisms that are explicit and sufficient to advance the universal service principles enumerated in The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and such other principles as the Joint Board and the Commission believe are necessary and appropriate for the protection of the public interest, convenience and necessity, and are consistent with the 1996 Act.
In this Recommended Decision, we propose rules and policies that will create such an effective universal service support system to “ensure that the goals of affordable service and access to advanced services are met by means that enhance, rather than distort, competition.” We recommend replacing or modifying existing support mechanisms that are inconsistent with the pro-competitive, deregulatory spirit of the 1996 Act, substantially reshaping virtually all remaining mechanisms, and adopting certain new support mechanisms. Our recommendations are fashioned to ensure quality telecommunications services at affordable rates to consumers, including low income consumers, in all regions of the nation, including rural, insular, and high cost areas. Rural health care providers should have access to telecommunications services at rates comparable to those in urban areas. Libraries and elementary and secondary schools will be able to purchase telecommunications services at discounted rates. As required by the 1996 Act, these universal service mechanisms will be explicit, specific, predictable and sufficient to preserve and advance universal service and will be supported by equitable and nondiscriminatory contributions by all telecommunications carriers that provide interstate telecommunications services.