Due to changes from the 7th Report & Order, appeals relating to actions made by USAC must first be filed with USAC before seeking FCC review. On April 15, 2015 the Wireline Competition Bureau released two decisions from appeals that had been submitted for review by the FCC.
The first decision involves Achieve Telecom Network of Massachusetts. In their original decision, USAC found that Achieve engaged in unfair bidding practices and denied several of their customers E-rate commitments due to the competitive bidding violations noted below:
“DR1: Achieve Telecom (Achieve) has a partnership with USDLA and solicits donations on behalf of USDLA. USDLA then provides grants to applicants to use to pay their non-discount share. Achieve’s bids to applicants indicate that Achieve markets their service to applicants as a no cost service because Achieve is able to guarantee applicants that they will receive USDLA grants to pay their share for the Achieve funding requests. Achieve is therefore providing applicants with a rebate for the applicant’s portion of the cost…
…The applicant was unable to conduct a fair and open competitive bidding process based on Achieve’s no-cost guarantee, and Achieve had an unfair competitive advantage because Achieve guaranteed a no-cost service in violation of the rule that the service provider not provide a rebate to the applicant.”
Several of Achieve Network’s customers received E-rate funding before the situation was uncovered. The FCC ruled that the service provider, Achieve Network, was ultimately responsible for the competitive bidding violations and will seek recovery of those funds from Achieve Network, not the applicants involved.
The second appeal decision involves Iberia Parish School Board and the south Pike School District. The FCC ruled that both of these applicants violated the equipment transfer rule and transferred equipment purchased with E-rate funds from open schools within three years of purchase date.