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Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Here we find a classic example of the parent, (we’ll call them the FCC) telling the children (Schools and Libraries) that they cannot do as they do.

According to the parent of the Universal Service Administrative Company, unbundled warranties are not necessary to maintain “the degree of reliability ordinarily provided in the marketplace”. Why, therefore, would the FCC allow USAC to use administrative USF funds to purchase unbundled warranties?

Is USAC wasting USF dollars on unbundled warranties? Or is it simply that USAC understands the need to maintain networks and has made a determination that the service the agency is seeking is a cost-effective solution to keep the network running reliably? According to the FCC, unbundled warranties are a “type of retainer and not‚Ķan actual maintenance service.” Will the FCC allow USAC to use USF dollars on these types of services? If so, why then has the FCC decided that schools are no longer able to support their infrastructure in a similar fashion? Is the proper operation of USAC’s local area network of much higher importance than that of thousands of K-12 school districts across the country?

It is also interesting that USAC has specified a specific manufacturer’s product without including the same type of “or equivalent” language E-rate applicants must insert into their own RFPs. In fact, USAC explicitly states that “alternate products will not be accepted.” Apparently, USAC can specify a particular manufacturer for its purchases, but schools cannot. On behalf of all the confused E-rate children, one has to ask why the rules appear to be different for the some and not for others.

By the way, interested vendors need to respond quickly. Bids are due 7 days after the RFP was posted — and the contract is scheduled to be awarded next week.

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