July 1, 2011 USAC News and Tips

TIP OF THE WEEK: During the summer contact period, USAC will put the review of your application or the processing of your paper form on hold if you cannot be reached. To update your Form 471 summer contact information, refer to the May 20 SL News Brief; to complete the processing of a paper form, Submit a Question or call the Client Service Bureau.

Commitments for Funding Years 2011 and 2010

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 3 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) July 6. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of July 1, FY2011 commitments total over $506 million.

Funding Year 2010. USAC will release FY2010 Wave 56 FCDLs July 7. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 81% and above and denials at 79% and below. As of July 1, FY2010 commitments total over $2.58 billion.

On the day the FCDLs are mailed, you can check to see if you have a commitment by using USAC’s Automated Search of Commitments tool.

FCC Establishes Comment Period for FY2012 Eligible Services List

On June 24, 2011 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice (DA 11-1096) establishing the comment period for the Funding Year 2012 Eligible Services List (ESL).

Comments on the draft ESL are due to the FCC on or before July 15, 2011. Reply comments are due to the FCC on or before July 25, 2011. For information on filing comments with the FCC, please refer to the Public Notice.

The Public Notice also includes a summary of the changes being contemplated. A clean draft format of the ESL was released with a second Public Notice (DA 11-1141), and a redlined version of the ESL, which highlights each of the specific proposed changes, has also been released. The edits to the ESL provide clarifications or additional information and are not intended to change the level of eligibility for services from the previous funding year.

FY2012 Form 470 Available for Filing Online

On June 30, 2011 USAC enabled online filing for FY2012 for the FCC Form 470, Description of Services Requested and Certification Form. USAC can also process paper Forms 470 that feature FY2012 as the funding year in Block 1. (As a reminder, the first day of FY2012 is July 1, 2012.)

If you have already filed a Form 470 for FY2011 and noted in Item 13 that you intended the form for FY2012 services, remember that you cannot cite this form for non-contracted services provided under tariff or on a month-to-month basis. For these services, you must file a Form 470 featuring FY2012 in Block 1, Item 2.

Fall Applicant Training Registration Continues

Some of the fall training sessions still have openings, and we continue to work the waiting lists for those that are full. To register online and to locate information on reserving a room at a conference hotel, go to the Training and Presentations page on the USAC website and click on the link for the training session you wish to attend. You can continue to send questions, cancellations, or requests for information about the fall applicant training to USAC Training.

Electronic Access for Service Providers

As a reminder to service providers, many of the tasks you perform related to E-rate can be accomplished online. Below we have provided some information to acquaint you with your current electronic options.

You should already have online access to the E-File System.

Service providers file Form 498, Service Provider Identification Number and Contact Information Form to obtain a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN). USAC also issues login information for our online E-File System to each service provider that successfully files this form. With this login information, you can access the E-File System to revise your Form 498, assign permissions to employees at your company for online access to specific actions, approve BEAR Forms filed by applicants, view Item 21 attachments submitted online, and perform other functions.

To get access to your login information:

  • If you filed a Form 498 on or before October 2005 and have not filed a revision to your form, you will have to file a revision before USAC can send you login information. 
  • If you filed an original or revised Form 498 after October 2005, you can access USAC’s E-File System with the login information provided by USAC.
  • You can call USAC’s Billing, Collections & Disbursement Department (BCD) at 1-888-641-8722 if you have questions or you don’t know or can’t locate your login information. When you call, choose the FCC Form 498 option (currently option #3) for this purpose.

You can review and – if necessary – revise your Form 498 information.

Electronic banking information. USAC makes payments to service providers electronically. You should review the electronic banking information on the most recent revision to your Form 498 to make sure it is correct. If it is not – or if you have not yet provided this information – you can file a revision to your existing form.

In addition to electronic banking information, Form 498 has other information that must be kept up-to-date. USAC uses the information on the original or most current revision of your Form 498 to contact you by email, to prepare payment information, and for other communications. Applicants also rely on the service provider information in USAC’s SPIN Contact Search tool, which pulls directly from the most recent Form 498 information. For these and other reasons, it is important to keep this information current.

Service providers that participate in the Schools and Libraries Program should maintain correct information on the Form 498 for the general contact (Block 2), electronic banking (Block 11), company contact (Block 12), and company officer (Block 15). If you participate in other Universal Service Fund programs, you can provide contact and payment information for those programs as well in the appropriate blocks on the form.

If you have not designated a Schools and Libraries contact – or if any information on your form needs to be updated – you can easily file a revision to your Form 498. If you have login information, you can update your Form 498 online. You can also file a revision on paper. If you have questions, contact BCD for assistance.

  • NOTE: The Schools and Libraries contact is the person at your company who is responsible for the E-rate program. It is NOT the name of an employee of a program applicant.

Note that a revision to a Form 498 may require information that you have not provided in the past. Two examples of such information are:

  • A Dun and Bradstreet (D-U-N-S) number. This number can be obtained from the Dun and Bradstreet website. Note that there is a link on the site to obtain a D-U-N-S number for government purposes at no charge.
  • Study Area Code (SAC) numbers. Service providers that participate in the High Cost and/or Low Income programs must provide these numbers to establish the appropriate relationship between those numbers and the related SPINs.

You can sign up for electronic notifications and/or electronic invoicing.

Service providers can elect to receive some USAC notifications by email. These electronic notifications contain the information in the data report at the end of each letter; they do not contain the text of the letter. The notifications are emailed to service providers in a pipe-delimited file, which can be saved or downloaded into a spreadsheet program.

Here are the notifications that USAC can send electronically:

  • Form 471 Receipt Acknowledgment Letter
  • Funding Commitment Decision Letter
  • Revised Funding Commitment Decision Letter
  • Form 486 Notification Letter
  • Form 500 Notification Letter
  • Invoice Status Report

For more information – including how to sign up – refer to the Electronic Notifications guidance on the USAC website. You can also review the lists of fields contained in each notification by reviewing the electronic notification formats listed in the upper right-hand corner of the Electronic Notification Formats page on the USAC website.

In addition, service providers can file SPI Forms electronically – that is, by preparing a spreadsheet of the appropriate data in a comma-delimited format and emailing it to USAC. USAC uses the emailed data to create and then process a SPI Form. For more information on electronic invoicing, refer to the Electronic Invoicing guidance document on the USAC website.

  • Note: Service providers that file an electronic invoice will receive an electronic Invoice Status Report for that invoice. This does not mean that the service provider is signed up for electronic notifications.