On July 20, 2016, six major telecommunications companies sent a letter to the USAC and the FCC expressing their concerns regarding the functioning of the SLD’s E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). They described how the system’s shortcomings are inhibiting their ability to provide accurate and timely E-rate discounts. The letter makes clear that the telecommunications companies will not be able to provide schools and libraries with E-rate discounts until USAC has fixed several aspects of the EPC system.
The telecommunications companies that specifically signed onto the correspondence are AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Sprint, Verizon and Windstream.
Together, the six companies serve 11,945 E-rate applicants with Category 1 FY2016 funding requests totaling $581 million. In their letter, the telecommunications companies requested the following of USAC:
- Immediate resolution of vendor-related limitations within EPC
- Publication of final formats for all FY2016 form notification files
- Implementation of systematic testing procedures prior to the release of new forms and files
- Suspension of additional funding waves until EPC issues are fixed
- Posting EPC issue logs on the USAC website for stakeholders to view publically, without having to search USAC News Briefs
- Instituting protocols requiring engagement with stakeholders at least one year in advance of USAC I.T. projects
- Formation of an industry working group to identify and resolve technical and process challenges associated with EPC
The letter to USAC can be viewed here.