Published: Published: November 1st, 2017

Arizona Department of Education to Host Free Sign-Up Day for High-Speed Internet

Green background with a cartoon Earth and a computer mouse resting on the planet.

As you may know, the Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity for all schools in Arizona to sign up for access to broadband (high-speed) internet service at free or little cost before the deadline in early 2018 closes.

As one of only 17 states that have millions of dollars available for this opportunity, this is an incredible chance for areas with no or slow internet to have access to telemedicine, online occupational and speech therapy, distance learning, as well as the broadband speed necessary for teachers to utilize in all sorts of creative ways.

In order to make it easy for schools to take advantage of this program, the Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative – in conjunction with Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, as well as Cochise County Superintendent Jacqui Clay and Coconino County Superintendent Risha VanderWey – are hosting two “sign-up days” at no cost to the schools.

RSVP by emailing Milan Eaton at [email protected] by December 5, 2017.

  • 9 AM – 4 PM on December 7, 2017 in Cochise County at 901 North Colombo Ave, Sierra Vista AZ
  • 9 AM – 4 PM on January 11, 2018 in Coconino County at 400 North Cummings St, Flagstaff AZ
  • Posted in Broadband, E-rate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
    Published: Published: January 26th, 2017

    USAC E-Rate News Brief: January 19, 2017

    The following news brief was published as a USAC School and Libraries Program News Brief on January 17, 2017.

    USAC Schools and Libraries Program News Brief

    January 19, 2017

    TIP OF THE WEEK: Applicants and service providers must submit invoices for FY2015 non-recurring services on or before January 30, 2017. If you need an extension, review the guidance in last week’s SL News Brief on the Deadline Extension Tool and request your extension no later than January 30.

    Note that the USAC will be closed Friday, January 20, 2017.

    Commitments for Funding Year 2016

    Funding Year 2016. USAC is scheduled to release Funding Year (FY) 2016 Wave 31 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) next week. This wave includes commitments for approved applications for all service types and at all discount levels. As of January 19, FY2016 commitments total over $1.92 billion.

    On the date the FCDLs are issued, you can access your FCDL notification from the Notifications section of your landing page in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC).

    Additional Information on Profile Updates in EPC

    During the Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) review of FY2016 applications, some reviewers identified changes to applicant profile information that were required to successfully process the application. The reviewers updated those FCC Form(s) 471 but did not update the actual applicant profiles.

    In last week’s SL News Brief, we described the process we are following to update the applicant profiles where PIA identified changes.

    • Last week, we sent an email to applicants who made changes to their profiles after July 21, 2016 notifying them that our updates would overwrite those changes. Those applicants now have until January 26 to inform us that they do not want us to proceed with our changes.
    • We will send an email to applicants who did not make changes to their profiles informing them that we have made our updates.
    • If no changes were made to your profile, no action is required.

    If your profile has been updated, you have two options to review changes to your profile information – the Modifications menu item and the Entity Download Tool.

    Modifications menu item

    Each entity profile page in the E-rate Productivity Center has a menu item in the left-hand column labeled “Modifications.” When you click this item, you will see two sections on the Modifications page:

    • The first section, labeled “Modifications by User,” lists all of the modifications you or other users on your organization have made to this specific entity. When you make a modification, remember to use a nickname that is clear, concise, and descriptive, as this list does not provide the details of the modification.
    • The second section, labeled “Modifications by System,” lists all of the modifications USAC copied to this specific entity. Each entry includes a link to the list of the updated fields and displays the current and original data value so you can compare the information. Modifications in these lists are specific to the entity. In other words, a school district or library system would have to go to its profile page and the profile pages of each of its schools or library branches to review all of the modifications.

    Entity Download Tool

    The Entity Download Tool is now available on the Tools page of the USAC website. This tool displays most of the fields contained in entity profiles. The user guide – which is posted together with the tool itself – includes a list of the fields contained in the tool.

    With this tool, you can download all of the entities you would like to review. The tool will not specifically identify the fields that have been changed, but it will provide the date of the last update and the name of the user who performed the update.

    Note that you must download the entity information for an entire state. You can then sort the results and concentrate only on the entities you want to review.

    Next steps

    We strongly suggest that all applicants refrain from making additional changes to their profiles until we have completed this process. Because we sometimes become aware of changes after a funding wave runs, we may still identify changes in the near future. Again, we will communicate with any affected applicants by email if we become aware of those changes.

    We will also provide a notification when we have completed this process so that applicants can go into their profiles and make any necessary updates in preparation for the opening of the FY2017 application filing window.

    Posted in E-rate, News | Tagged , , |
    Published: Published: January 26th, 2017

    Is E-rate a grant program? Are there yearly reporting requirements?

    E-rate is not a grant. It is an annual application process for disbursement through the Universal Service Fund. There are no yearly reporting requirements. However, all services and equipment requested under the E-rate program must be utilized by the applicant to meet program requirements. All E-rate documentation must be kept for ten (10) years from the last date of service.

    Posted in FAQ | Tagged |
    Published: Published: January 26th, 2017

    Do I need an approved technology plan?

    • No, not for FY 2015 and beyond. Beginning in YR 2015, the technology plan requirements for category two services are eliminated.  However, Districts should continue to submit via ALEAT their plans and have them approved in case of PIA audit / review.
    • FY 2014 and earlier require an approved technology plan for category two (then priority two) services.
    • The FCC eliminated the technology plan requirements for category one (then priority one) services in 2010.
    Posted in E-rate | Tagged |
    Published: Published: January 26th, 2017

    How do I determine my discount level?

    Adopting District-wide Discount Rates

    • The Order requires each school district to calculate and use a single district-wide discount rate rather than calculating and using building-by-building discount rates. All public schools and libraries within that public school district will receive the same discount rate.
    • Independent charter schools, private schools, and other eligible educational facilities must calculate their discounts separately if not affiliated financially or operationally with a school district. Those independent charter schools, private schools, and other eligible educational facilities that are seeking support for more than one school building should factor all students in facilities under the control of their central administrative agency into the discount calculation.
    • Consortia applications will continue to use a simple average of all members’ discounts to calculate the overall consortium discount, but will now be required to use each member’s district-wide discount.

    Updating the Definition of “Rural”

    The Order adopts the U.S. Census Bureau (Census) definitions of rural and urban for the purpose of determining whether an E-rate applicant qualifies for an additional rural discount. The Census definition classifies a particular location as “urban” based on population density and geography, and other criteria involving non-residential development, while “rural” encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area. Beginning with funding year 2015, schools and libraries located in rural areas, as defined by the most recent decennial Census, will be considered rural for the purposes of the E-rate program.

    For an individual school, the rural/urban classification can be determined by its mailing address using the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder. The rural/urban classification for a district with schools in each category will be determined by the location of the majority of its schools.

    You can also use USAC’s Urban/Rural Lookup Tool.

    NSLP Community Eligibility Provision

    • The Order allows schools and school districts participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP to use the same approach for determining their E-rate discount as they use for determining their NSLP reimbursement rate. Specifically, schools utilizing the CEP shall calculate their student eligibility for free or reduced priced lunches by multiplying the percentage of directly certified students by the CEP national multiplier (currently 1.6x).
    • Modifying the Requirement for Using School-Wide Income Surveys To the extent a school or school district seeks to use a survey rather than NSLP data to determine its discount rate, the Order requires them to base their E-rate discount only on the surveys they actually collect beginning with funding year 2015. For example, a school with 100 students that collects 60 surveys showing that 52 students meet the eligibility criteria for the free and reduced lunch program would be considered to have a 52 percent eligibility percentage. The Order makes clear that E-rate participants may continue using NSLP data in lieu of school-wide income surveys.
    Posted in FAQ | Tagged |
    Published: Published: January 26th, 2017

    What sorts of services are eligible for E-rate discounts?

    Category One Services covers a percentage of Telecommunications Services, Telecommunications, and Internet Access

    • Digital transmission services provide transmission from an eligible school or library facility to other locations beyond the school or library. Such services generally refer to data links that connect multiple points using any available technology.
    • Lit or dark fiber, provided by any entity, including a non-telecommunications carrier, is eligible. Dark fiber is eligible as long as applicants light the fiber immediately.
    • Interconnected Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP); however, this service will be phased out in the future.
    • Internet access – Support in this funding category is generally only available for basic conduit access to the Internet but is not available for content, equipment purchased by applicants, and services beyond basic conduit access to the Internet.
    • Telephone service. However, in FY 2015, E-rate support will not be available for paging, email, web hosting, voice mail, directory assistance, text messaging, custom calling features, direct inward dialing (DID), 900/976 call blocking, and inside wire maintenance plans.

    Category Two Services will only cover a percentage of broadband distribution services and equipment. Three groups of services eligible for category two support: internal connections, basic maintenance, and managed internal broadband services (more commonly described as managed Wi-Fi).

    • Support is therefore limited to routers, switches, wireless access points, internal cabling, racks, wireless controller systems, firewall services, uninterruptable power supply, and the software supporting each of these components used to distribute high-speed broadband throughout schools and libraries.
    • For funding years 2015 and 2016, basic maintenance services and managed Wi-Fi are eligible for category two support.
    Posted in FAQ | Tagged |
    Published: Published: January 26th, 2017

    What is the application process?

    E-rate has an annual application process. In short, the E-rate year runs from July 1 – June 30. Each fall, applicants post a Form 470, followed by a 28-day competitive bidding period, then followed by a submission of Form 471 during the winter E-rate filing window, and a Form 486 after receiving a Funding Commitment Decision Letter.

    Posted in FAQ | Tagged |
    Published: Published: January 26th, 2017

    Who is responsible for the E-rate program?

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has regulatory authority over the program under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The FCC has appointed the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to administer the program. Within USAC, the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) manages the day-to-day operations of the program.

    Posted in FAQ | Tagged |
    Published: Published: January 26th, 2017

    What is E-Rate?

    The National Education Rate Program (“E-rate Program”) is part of the Universal Service Fund, as established by the 1996 Telecommunications Act. It provides discounts on telecommunications, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections to eligible entities that complete an annual application process.

    Posted in FAQ | Tagged |