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

About The E-Rate Program

The Schools and Libraries Program, more commonly called the E-rate program, provides nearly $4 billion annually in subsidies to U.S. schools and libraries to purchase services such as broadband Internet access service, wi-fi and infrastructure. The program was created in 1997 and provides subsidized services to 97% of the nation’s classrooms. It is funded through fees paid by providers of telecommunications and other communications services.  Recent FCC program reforms have significantly expanded the services and infrastructure funded under the program.

Service providers and school and library administrators look to DWT’s lawyers and professionals to help them navigate the complex compliance rules governing the program in order to maximize funding approvals, as well as business opportunities in the highly competitive market of providing services to recipients. We assist clients in all stages of the funding cycle, including responding to RFPs, drafting contracts, Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviews, and appeals.

E-rate competitive bidding rules, such as those requiring the lowest corresponding price and cost effectiveness, can raise legal questions during the time-sensitive process of bidding for E-rate contracts. Failure to fully comply with these rules can torpedo funding approval and sour customer relationships. We regularly advise service providers, schools and libraries on how to avoid common pitfalls during this critical phase.

Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviews are now routine on every application. We assist clients responding to PIA inquiries to prevent questions from morphing into full-blown audits. An audit can quickly grow into a very lengthy process that holds up funding. Should you find yourself facing an audit, we have extensive experience in successfully handling large, complex audits that span many school districts and libraries over multiple years. This experience includes understanding and explaining the underlying engineering to USAC and complex cost allocation analysis. We also routinely represent service providers before the FCC when compliance inquiries are made by its Wireline Competition Bureau, Enforcement Bureau or Inspector General’s Office.

The FCC recently overhauled the E-rate program for the first time since the program’s inception in 1997. Our lawyers have represented major players in this effort and now help to navigate the transformed program. We also regularly handle disputes with USAC and appeals of USAC funding decisions, as well as advocate for clients with FCC staff and commissioners.