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E-rate Year Kicks-Off with Questions

Today marks the beginning of the 19th E-rate funding year (2016) – and the official start to the next funding cycle (2017). As we enter this next year, here are a few important questions to consider:

  • E-rate Portal. The frustrations and concerns with the launch of USAC’s new online system are well-known. What are the short-term fixes to EPC and what will the long-term solution(s) look like? USAC gave a glimpse of their thinking during the service provider trainings this past week.
  • USAC leadership. Mel Blackwell, the USAC Vice-president responsible for the E-rate program, has retired from his position.  Who will be selected to take his place? Will it be a veteran of the E-rate program? Or a newcomer? The impact of this leadership choice may not be felt immediately, but it will certainly affect the program for years to come.
  • FCC Action. What other adjustments to the E-rate program might the FCC make this year? There are a number of important issues looming at the FCC. It is more than likely that that the FCC staff will do what they can to lock in and enhance E-rate 2.0 as much as possible before…
  • Presidential election. You may have noticed that there is a U.S. presidential election in full swing. Who will win? No matter the outcome, the new President will most certainly want to make their mark on the FCC. We should expect that there will be changes at the FCC in 2017 and that this will lead to modifications to the E-rate program in 2018 or later.

Of course there are many other notable questions. How fast will USAC be able to able to ramp up FY2016 funding commitments? What will the final demand figures look like after the close of the library/consortia filing window on July 21? We will be keeping an eye on these and other questions as FY2016 begins.

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