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FCC Releases Clarifying Order

The FCC released further information and clarification regarding the September 23rd Order that specifies new rules for stakeholders to follow. The Sixth Report and Order covered new rules tied to technology planning, competitive bidding, disposing of obsolete equipment, after school hours Internet Access, service provider changes, making dark fiber eligible and new interpretations of Basic Maintenance services.

Along with the Clarifying Order, the FCC released a Public Notice that specifies the effective date of different parts of the Order plus provides FAQs tied to Dark Fiber, SPIN Changes, Community Use and Technology Plans.

After the release of the Sixth Report and Order, many stakeholders submitted questions to the FCC seeking further clarification on items adopted in the Order. The newly released Order clarifies the rules and offers further guidance on fixed price contracts for basic maintenance services as well as the new gift giving regulations.

Basic Maintenance

The FCC’s intent of the new rules is to be good stewards of the Universal Service Fund by having applicants receive reimbursement for “[actual] work performed or for hours of labor actually used.”

The FCC clarified that fixed price contracts to cover eligible equipment would not be limited; but stakeholders would not be able to seek reimbursement until maintenance work was actually performed. There are, however, basic maintenance contracts that would be eligible for E-rate support without applicants demonstrating that work was performed. The examples provided are services such as software upgrades and patches, including bug fixes and security patches, and online and telephone-based technical assistance.


The FCC reiterated that applicants are subject to gift rules consistent with the gift rules applicable to federal agencies. The new rules are not intended to discourage charitable donations as long as the donations in no way influence the competitive bidding process tied to E-rate related goods and services.

The new guidance indicates that companies that participate in education industry conferences could be in violation of competitive bidding rules by providing gifts, raffles, and prizes that have a retail value of over $20.

Your Source for the latest Broadband Order News

Continue to check our FCC E-rate Broadband Order page for the latest updates and further analysis of the Orders and the implications on the E-rate program. If you have any questions about the recently released clarification, please call Funds For Learning at 405-341-4140, or email us at

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