Pribilof, a remote school district, had requested more than $300,000 in E-rate funding from the program for satellite Internet access in 2016. After numerous EPC problems, Pribilof submitted its application through the portal four days after the filing window had closed and subsequently received electronic notification from USAC stating, “The application had been successfully filed and that the funding for out-of-window applications will be prioritized after all in-window applications, as well as any earlier-filed out-of-window applications.” This was misleading since E-rate program rules for FY2016 stated that out-of-window applications would not be considered for funding at all.
The Commission has directed that Pribilof’s Form 471 application be reviewed by USAC. Furthermore, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has been instructed to initiate a process by which other FY2016 applicants would have 60 days to demonstrate that they experienced the same special circumstances as Pribilof and that a waiver would be in the public interest for their respective FY2016 E-rate applications. The special circumstances apply to funding year 2016 Form 471 applications that meet the following criteria:
- The Form 471 was filed within the 14-day period following the applicable filing window deadline.
- An EPC notification was received indicating that the application could be funded.
- The applicant submitted a waiver request of the Form 471 deadline AND the waiver was submitted beyond 60 days from the date of USAC’s decision denying the application.
The Pribilof Order and FCC Commissioners O’Rielly and Rosenworcel’s statements can be viewed here.