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Emergency Connectivity Fund

Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF)
Filing Window Webinar

Funds for Learning is hosting an exclusive webinar to walk through the upcoming ECF Filing Window. This is your chance to get off to a fast start for understanding what you need to know.

When: June 2nd
Time: 11:00 AM Eastern Time

Scheduling conflict? No worries. All registrants will receive a link to a recording of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Webinar.

Set up a Consultation with FFL today, click here to schedule time

Emergency Connectivity Fund

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, was signed into law on March 11, 2021. Included in the legislation is the creation of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) for broadband internet service and equipment to support remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new funding source consisting of $7.1 billion to be distributed through the federal E-rate program.

What is Covered?

Emergency Connectivity Fund will provide support for broadband Internet connectivity to off-campus locations, such as student or library patron homes. In addition, funds will be available for hotspot, router, and modem hardware, as well as “connected devices” like laptops or tablets. Read the full ECF Order here

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Final ECF Rules (Adopted May 10, 2021) 

Broadband Connections

Broadband Equipment: Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, and routers, including cellular air-cards, will qualify for reimbursement.  Wi-Fi hotspots will be capped at $250. 
 
Broadband Services:  There are no minimum standards for network connections. One Wi-Fi hot spot is allowed per user, and, for fixed internet connections, only one service connection is allowed per location. There are no price caps for broadband services but USAC will review costs for reasonableness. 
 
Limited Support for Off-Campus Networks:  Where applicants can prove there is no commercially available internet access available, applicants may seek funding for construction of such networks.

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Connected Learning Devices

Laptops and Tablets up to $400: The Commission will approve reimbursement requests up to $400 for laptops and tablets. Smartphones will not be approved.  One connected device per student is allowed. There is no allowance for breakage/spares. Applicants can purchase more expensive devices, but reimbursements will be capped at the $400 limit.

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Filing Window

Initial Filing Window (“New Purchases”): There will be an initial 45-day filing window for schools and libraries to seek reimbursement for eligible purchases made between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. This is the so-called “prospective” reimbursement filing window.
 
Subsequent Filing Windows: If significant funds remain available, the Commission may decide to open another prospective filing window; alternatively the Commission may open a “retroactive” filing window for eligible purchases made between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.   

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Competitive Bidding

No Extra FCC Bidding. There will be no FCC-specific competitive bidding mandates (e.g., the FCC Form 470); however, applicants will certify compliance with applicable local, state, and Tribal procurement requirements. 

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Application Process

EPC Portal. USAC will leverage the existing E-rate funding application (i.e., FCC Form 471) and processes as much as possible. 
 
Decisions Tied to Close of Filing Window. USAC will wait until the filing window is closed and all applications are tallied to begin issuing funding commitments. Goal is for USAC to process 50% of applications within 60 days after close of filing window. 
 
Discount Rate Determines Who Receives Funding.  Should demand exceed available funds, applications will be prioritized and processed based on the Category 1 E-rate discount rate associated with a school or library.  Rural applicants will receive a 5% “bump” to the discount rate used to calculate the priority of their applications. For example, rural schools and libraries who qualify for a 90% discount rate in the E-rate program will use a 95% discount and will receive top priority over their urban counterparts who also qualify for a 90% E-rate discount. If there are insufficient funds available to fund an entire discount band, priority will be given to applicants with the highest percentage of low-income students.     

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Payment Process

“Reimbursement” or “Pre-reimbursement” . Applicants will be allowed to submit reimbursement requests for invoices already paid. Applicants will also have the option to request reimbursement prior to paying for services, in which case the applicant must pay their vendors within 30-days of receiving their ECF reimbursement. The existing FCC Form 472 (BEAR) system will be used to submit payment requests, following a 60-day invoice submission timeframe. Detailed line-item vendor invoices will be required.  Applicants must be registered in the Sam.gov system to receive ECF reimbursements.   

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Eligible Entities, Users, and Locations

E-rate Eligible Schools and Libraries. Entities do not need to be currently participating in E-rate to apply for ECF. 
 
Eligible Users. Support is eligible for students, school staff, and library patrons who otherwise did not or do not have Internet access (subject to certification for school applicants.) Appropriate user credentials are required for access to services.  
 
Off-campus locations. Broadband connections are eligible anywhere education is occurring (except on school or library campus.) 

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Other

Filtering Required in Certain Cases. CIPA requirements only will be in effect for ECF-supported services that use ECF-supported devices.  
 
Exception for Remote Learning-related Gifts. The typical gift rule requirements will be in effect except for goods and services directly related to remote learning. 
 
10-year Documentation Requirement. Applicants will be required to keep documentation similar to the scope of the E-rate program. 

Appeal deadline. Applicant appeals must be submitted within 30 days, rather than the E-rate program’s customary 60-day deadline.  

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Let Funds For Learning Help you Navigate ECF

We encourage you to leverage the experts at FFL to help you navigate these new waters.

Our mission is to provide high quality consulting and support services for the needs of E-Rate and ECF program participants. We start by understanding your needs and then we step you through the process to ensure we are meeting all the compliance guidelines in a timely manner, while reducing your workload and stress

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For more information about Emergency Connectivity Fund please complete this form and an E-rate Guide will contact you as soon as possible.

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Related ECF News

Emergency Connectivity Fund FAQsMay 14, 2021
Remote Learning Support (ECF) Launches in JuneMay 11, 2021
FCC Adopts ECF Rules, Details Pending May 10, 2021
FFL Expresses Concern Over Proposed ECF RulesMay 7, 2021
Group Recommends Changes to ECF BenefitsMay 7, 2021
Big Urban Schools and Telco’s Benefit Most Under Proposed ECFMay 1, 2021
FCC Allows Public View of Draft ECF RulesMay 1, 2021
Broad Support for ECF ProgramApril 30, 2021
ECF Comments Due April 23April 16, 2021
Proposal for Homework Gap Funding SystemApril 9, 2021
Broad Support for Homework Gap ProgramApril 9, 2021
FCC Starts Homework Gap Rulemaking ProcessMarch 16, 2021
E-rate Ready to Help Remote LearningMarch 12, 2021
COVID Relief Bill Includes $7.1B for E-rateMarch 11, 2021
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – Emergency Connectivity FundMarch 11, 2021
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We’re here to help!

Our mission is to provide high-quality consulting and support services for the needs of E-rate program participants. We consult with applicants to help them understand, effectively utilize, and maintain compliance with E-rate rules and regulations. We help prepare and submit paperwork, and interact with program administrators on our clients’ behalf.

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