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2017 E-rate Year in Review

The 2017 calendar year started with leadership changes at the FCC and it ended with changes at USAC. In between, we saw the close of a filing window, more challenges with EPC, and special efforts to support applicants impacted by dreadful hurricanes.
Below is a recap of just a few of the notable E-rate related moments from 2017.
Pai Wants to Close Digital Divide, Supports E-rate Program
(Jan) New FCC Chair highlights closing digital divide as priority in his first address to FCC staff. In May, he again expresses his commitment to the E-rate program.
Funding Cap at $3.99 Billion; Senators Express Bipartisan Support
(Mar) The FCC establishes a record E-rate funding cap of nearly $4 billion, while prominent politicians from both major political parties advocate for the E-rate program.
FCC Chair Tells USAC to Fix EPC
(April) Ajit Pai sends USAC a strongly worded letter highlighting serious flaws in its administration of the E-rate program. Not long thereafter, the head of USAC steps down
Big Demand for Broadband Reflected in E-rate Forms
(June) Surging demand and more competition led to faster, more affordable broadband connections and lower costs on FY2017 E-rate applications. 
Pace of Payments and Decisions Improves
(July) USAC pays out record funds and improves pace of funding decisions compared to dismal 2016.
Rosenworcel and Carr Join Commission
(Aug) The Senate filled two empty positions on the Federal Communications Commission.

Analysis Measures Impact of C2 in 2015
(Sept) The Alliance for Excellent Education and FFL released an analysis showing 42,700 school sites nationwide benefited from C2 funding in funding year 2015.

FCC Releases Voice Phase Down Report
(Oct) The FCC released an analysis of the impact of phasing out voice services from the E-rate program, acknowledging its role in declining demand and the reduced number of applicants.

C2 Budget System Examined
(Oct) Comments were submitted in response to the FCC’s request for feedback regarding the Category 2 budget system and declining demand for C2 discounts.

Hurricane Relief Efforts (November)
(Nov) The FCC took special action to support schools and libraries impacted by major hurricanes. Certain deadlines were waived, C2 budgets were reset and a special filing window was opened.

New USAC Leadership (December)
(Dec) USAC appointed Radha Sekar as new CEO and Catriona Ayer was named acting Vice-President of the SLD.

2017 E-rate Trends Report
(Dec) 1,096 applicants provide feedback to the FCC about the E-rate program’s strengths and weaknesses. Separate analysis shows that E-rate annually provides $55 per student.

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