Funds For Learning usually saves the New Year themed musings for July 1 as we bid adieu to the previous funding year and usher in the new. However, after spending an extended weekend watching year-end countdown shows ad nauseam, we began to get sentimental about the calendar year that was 2010.
Now that the business of the Holiday season has passed and you have begun to settle back into a normal routine, Funds For Learning has put together a 2010 retrospect revisiting ten of our most popular blogs, analyses and the biggest E-rate news items of 2010.
From the shock wave that was the FCC Sixth Report and Order, to the introduction of electronic USAC payments, the E-rate program saw some substantial changes in 2010. E-rate stakeholders saw guidance (or lack thereof) in a number of different areas in 2010 as USAC attempted to simplify and streamline the process. Bookmarked by record setting snowstorms, 2010 saw a blizzard of E-rate activity all year long.
The first funding wave of a given funding year usually receives a little more fanfare than say, the 32nd, but FY2010 Wave 001 arrived with a few more credentials than just being the first. Wave 001 was the largest wave since the inception of the program and committed over $424 million in support. Not a bad way to start FY2010.
Before the conclusion of calendar year 2009, the FCC proposed that E-rate recipients that receive Internet access and internal connections should be required to certify on its Form 486, for FY2010 that they had updated their Internet Safety policy to include plans for educating minors about appropriate online behavior. Applicants waited patiently for an effective date of the new CIPA rules. FY2010 began and applicants were still waiting patiently. Calendar year 2010 ended and applicants are still waiting patiently. Maybe 2011 will be the year we see further guidance from the FCC on the CIPA changes.
Lost in the shuffle of the anticipation surrounding the Sixth Report and Order, some service providers discovered the new electronic funds transfer requirements the hard way, as USAC held any payments of service providers that had not provided their banking information before August 31.
USAC stated publicly that expediting funding request approval was a top priority, and from our analysis, it appears that their efforts paid off. As of July 29, 2010, USAC had committed over $980 million for FY2010, which was more than 2009, 2008 and 2007 for the same time frame.
After the reveal of the Payment Quality Assurance Program (PQA), we were wondering if USAC had read our Auditcations blog. The PQA program is designed to “require minimal effort by participants and involve no on-site work by USAC.”
Our most popular commentary of the year, Verlyne Jolley voiced many of the concerns felt by the E-rate community after the announcement of the new gift giving regulations.
The most significant factor in predicting whether or not an E-rate funding commitment will be utilized is its funding date. Applications that are funded before the start of the funding year have the highest utilization rate. Applicants that file early in the filing window receive funding commitments sooner than those that waited to the end. Knowing this, why do over 90% of applicants wait until the last 30 days of the filing window to file their application?
The new rules and new Forms 470 and 471 delayed the start of the filing window to mid January. The FY2011 Form 471 application filing window will officially open at noon EST on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 and close at 11:59 EDT on Thursday March 24, 2011. Happy Spring Break!
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Was there any doubt that an event that demanded its own page on fundsforlearning.com would not be number one on this list? The FCC issued the National Broadband Plan Order on September 23, 2010 and it had several implications on the current E-rate program that will extended into 2011 and beyond.
The Orders followed the Commissions’ goals of providing greater flexibility for applicants, streamlining the application process and protecting against fraud, waste and abuse. Some of the most substantial changes involved technology planning, competitive bidding, equipment disposal, community use of E rate services, indexing the funding cap with inflation and gifts from service providers.
The Orders also established the E-rate Deployed Ubiquitously (EDU) 2011 Pilot Program. This $10 million program was established to measure the “…the merits and challenges of wireless off-premises connectivity services…”
With the Orders, the FCC also released the eligible services list for FY2011. The biggest change to the Eligible Services List (ESL) for FY2011 was the addition of “Dark Fiber” to the eligible services for Priority One. Dark fiber may now be purchased from any E-rate service provider. Web hosting continued to be eligible for E-rate discounts in FY2011.
Further guidance has been released since the Orders debut, and more guidance is sure to come, but the changes, questions, programs, public notices, clarifying orders, etc. that were all birthed from this one item is enough to make it number one on our list.
Need a New Year resolution for 2011?
How about staying up-to-date on all E-rate news, analysis and commentary?
Let FFL be your E-rate guide for 2011. Continue to check www.fundsforlearning.com for the latest updates and E-rate news.
If you have any questions please call Funds For Learning at 405-341-4140, or email us at email@example.com.