FY2017 funding applications are lagging prior years. With 35 days remaining to submit FY2017 E-rate funding requests, only 8,293 Form 471 applications have been submitted. Last year, at this same point, more than twice as many applications (16,960) had been filed. The following chart illustrates the pace of Form 471 applications during the past three filing windows.
The E-rate consists of an annual application cycle. The count of applications peaked in 2015. The following year saw a significant decline in applications. This is likely the result of changes to the eligible services list (particularly the loss of voice and cellular services), and the extraordinary challenges associated with using the USAC EPC online portal.
With only five weeks remaining, applicants who have not yet filed their FY2017 funding requests should start the process now. Individual funding requests can be submitted at different times throughout the course of the filing window, and it is not necessary for an applicant to wait to submit all their requests at once. If an applicant has a multiyear contract that has previously been E-rate competitively bid, they can submit that contract now, even as they wait for other procurement activities to finish.