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E-Rate Law Advisor Latest News & Legal Commentary on the E-Rate Program

Jim Smith

Posts by Jim Smith

FCC Wireline Division Grants Waivers of E-Rate Invoicing Rules Due to USAC Backlogs

Posted in FCC, USAC

On March 16, 2017, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released an Order granting two waivers relating to the E-rate program’s invoicing rules.  The waivers address problems resulting from backlogs in USAC’s processing of applications for new 498 IDs (formerly SPIN numbers) and PIN requests.  The backlog accumulated in the wake of recent rule changes that… Continue Reading

Tennessee Consortium Wins E-Rate Appeals Involving Complex Interpretations of the “Most Cost-Effective” and “Legally Binding Agreement” Rules

Posted in USAC

In an Order released December 30, 2016, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau granted appeals of a 2015 USAC decision that denied E-rate funding to the Sweetwater consortium of Tennessee school districts for funding years 2013-2015, where USAC found that Sweetwater violated the E-rate program’s “most cost-effective bid” and “legally binding agreement” requirements (47 CFR §§… Continue Reading

FCC Proposes First-Ever Forfeiture Against Rural Health Care Program Service Provider, For $21.7 Million

Posted in FCC

On November 4, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (“NAL”) against Network Services Solutions, LLC (“NSS”) and its CEO, Scott Madison, alleging multiple and egregious violations of the Commission’s program rules pertaining to the federal Universal Service Fund’s (“USF”) Rural Health Care (“RHC”) Program.  An accompanying press release stated that the… Continue Reading

FCC Launches Mapping Tool to Drive Broadband Healthcare Solutions

Posted in FCC

This Tuesday, the FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force unveiled its Mapping Broadband Health in America tool which permits users to “visualize, overlay, and analyze broadband and health data” at the national, state, county and census block levels.  The interactive tool will enable users to generate customized maps that can identify “double-burden” communities where a high incidence of… Continue Reading

Senate Committee Seeks Information on Rural Health Care and E-Rate Consultant Fees

Posted in FCC

On May 10, Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and USAC CEO Chris Henderson requesting information on fees charged by Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-rate consultants.  Of particular concern to the Senators are alleged… Continue Reading

FCC Denies E-Rate Appeal in Scorching Order

Posted in FCC

On April 15, after a multi-year investigation arising from events in 2004-2008, the Chief of the Telecommunications Access Policy Division (TAPD) of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued an Order denying appeals by an E-rate service provider and four Massachusetts school districts of a USAC decision that found numerous flagrant violations of the E-rate rules… Continue Reading

Advisory Alert: New FCC Order Increases E-rate Program by $1.5 Billion Annually, and Introduces a Number of New Changes Including “Equalizing” Treatment of Lit and Dark Fiber

Posted in FCC

On December 19, the FCC released the text of its Second Report and Order in its E-rate modernization proceeding. The new Order increased the annual spending cap on the E-rate program by an additional $1.5 billion—taking the cap from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion per year starting in the 2015-2016 funding year. This increase was expected after… Continue Reading

FCC E-Rate Divisions Exposed as Vote on Order Looms

Posted in FCC

A divided Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote tomorrow, July 11, on an E-rate Reform Order proposed by Chairman Tom Wheeler.  The proposed order, which is focused primarily on enabling schools and libraries to use E-rate funding for Wi-Fi services, has become the subject of much controversy and, this week, of bitter division between… Continue Reading

FCC E-Rate Modernization Workshop Emphasizes Educator Needs

Posted in FCC

In another milestone in its initiative to expand and modernize the E-Rate program within the next few months, on May 6 the FCC convened a day-long E-Rate Modernization Workshop at its Washington, D.C. headquarters.  The workshop included remarks by all five FCC commissioners and roundtable discussions featuring state and local K-12 school and library officials… Continue Reading

President Obama’s SOTU and FCC Chairman Wheeler Advance E-Rate Reform Initiative

Posted in Congress

Last night, in his annual State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama singled out the FCC’s ongoing E-rate program reform proceeding as a prominent element of his education initiatives for 2014. The President first heralded his ConnectED initiative to “connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over… Continue Reading

E-Rate Reform Proposals Discussed in DWT Presentations

Posted in General, USAC

On October 10, 2013, DWT’s Jim Smith gave a presentation on the status of the FCC’s E-Rate reform rulemaking to the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications alliance (ITTA). On November 14, 2013, he moderated a Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) continuing legal education “Progress Report on USF Reform” panel on E-rate and other ongoing FCC universal… Continue Reading