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FCC Grants Waiver of Installation Deadline

The Federal Communications Commission June 21 approved a waiver providing a year's extension of the September 30 installation deadline for the Buffalo City School District, which argued that it needed additional time to complete its projects because it did not receive some of its Year 4 funding commitments until January 14, 2002.

Under its current rules, the Commission automatically extends the installation deadline for non-recurring services in certain circumstances, including when a funding commitment letter is received on or after March 1 of the funding year in question or when a service provider cannot complete the work by the deadline because of "circumstances beyond its control."

In this case, the Commission noted, neither of those circumstances fit. The district's vendor had said that it could finish the job, but that compressing its work schedule to meet the normal deadline "would result in significant added costs." The Commission agreed to waive the rules for the school district, saying that this would be in line with its existing policies that "external circumstances such as delayed funding decisions can create situations where deadlines are both impractical and unreasonable, as well as the Commission's. . . long-standing policy of ensuring that applicants for non-recurring services are not penalized for delays that are not within their control."

The Universal Service Administrative Company has separately asked the Commission to clarify its rules as to whether a delayed funding commitment letter can be treated as "circumstances beyond a service provider's control" in authorizing an installation deadline extension. In a June 10 letter USAC raised the issue in asking for guidance on how to deal with the Buffalo situation, as well as a similar problem in the Chicago school district.

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