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FCC Provides Guidance to USAC on Selections of Fiber Services in Online Portal

Posted in FCC

On May 1, 2018, the FCC advised USAC on how to treat inconsistencies between E-rate applicant’s FCC Forms 470 and 471. Specifically, the FCC directed USAC not to issue denials solely because the applicant selected “Internet Access and Transport Bundled” or “Transport Only—No ISP service” on the FCC Form 470 when seeking bids, and then selected a fiber service on the FCC Form 471 when selecting a provider.

In August 2017, USAC implemented “simplified drop-down options” in the online E-rate Productivity Center. USAC provided guidance on how to use the options; however, stakeholders expressed concerns that these options generated confusion for many applicants because the drop-down menu option for the form 470 did not match the services selected on the applicants’ FCC Form 471. Applicants understandably worried that choosing the wrong option would create a discrepancy that would result in a denial of their FY2018 applications.

The FCC instructed that USAC “should not find a competitive bidding violation so long as (1) the service requested on the FCC Form 470 matches the service selected on the FCC Form 471, regardless whether it is provided via fiber and (2) the applicant has otherwise complied with all of the Commission’s competitive bidding rules.”

Going forward, the Commission directed USAC to create more clearly defined labels in the drop-down menu for options that include only “non-fiber services” and those that include “fiber services.” Before July 1, 2018, USAC must provide stakeholders with clear guidance on these revised menu options.