March 11, 2011 USAC News and Tip Of The Week

FY2011 WINDOW COUNTDOWN

Days to window close 13
Forms 471 filed to date 14,657

 Form 471 Deadline: March 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm EDT

 TIP OF THE WEEK: Item 21 attachments (see below) are a window filing requirement for FY2011. Follow the guidance below and in the website document Item 21 Attachments for Form 471 to submit your attachments online, by email, by fax or on paper no later than 11:59 pm EDT on Thursday, March 24, 2011.

Commitments for Funding Years 2010 and 2009

Funding Year 2010. USAC will release FY2010 Wave 42 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) March 15. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 requests (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections) at 81% and above and denials at 79% and below. As of March 11, FY2010 commitments total over $2.34 billion.

Funding Year 2009. USAC will release FY2009 Wave 82 FCDLs March 16. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 requests at 77% and above and denials at 76% and below. As of March 11, FY2009 commitments total over $2.8 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.

EDU2011 Participants Chosen

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced the 20 projects selected to participate in the E-rate Deployed Ubiquitously pilot program described in the FCC’s Sixth Report and Order. The pilot projects are located in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

For more information – including reminders on E-rate application procedures for the selected participants – refer to Public Notice DA 11-439, released March 9, 2011.

Register for May Service Provider Training

USAC will hold two one-day training sessions for service providers in May. The materials covered will be the same at both sessions.  The dates and locations are:

  • Tuesday, May 3 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott in Los Angeles, California
  • Thursday, May 12 at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia

You can register for the training and get hotel reservation information from the Upcoming Events section of the Trainings and Presentations page on the USAC website. Please email USAC if you need to cancel your registration so we can open a slot for someone else.

Form 471 Training Video Available

Applicants can now access a 15-minute Form 471 video tutorial. The tutorial walks through the step-by-step filing of a Form 471 online using the Interview version of the form. You can view the video directly or access it from the Tutorials Available page.  

Preparing and Submitting Item 21 Attachments

The Item 21 attachment is an important part of each Form 471 Block 5 funding request. It contains a detailed description of the products and services you are requesting. When you file a Form 471, the online system assigns a Funding Request Number (FRN) to each funding request. You provide an attachment number in Item 21 of each Form 471 Block 5 funding request that will correspond with your Item 21 attachment, and then you submit that Item 21 attachment separately from the application.

NOTE: You must provide an Item 21 attachment for EACH FRN on your Form 471.

Following are some specific tips for Item 21 attachments for each of the four categories of service – Telecommunications Services, Internet Access, Internal Connections, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. If you include the information suggested in the tips, your PIA reviewer will be able to more easily make determinations of the eligibility of the components of each of your funding requests.

– Telecommunications Services

Provide the specific type(s) of service requested. For example, instead of “Telecommunications” or “Telephone service,” state “Local and Long distance service.” If the specific type of service is not identified, PIA is required to ask for this information.

Provide the number of lines, including the number of extensions. Many entities have a single billed telephone number with several lines or extensions associated with the main billing line. Be sure to include those lines and extensions in your line count. For example, if your school or library has a main line and 12 additional extensions, enter “13” for the number of lines.

For digital transmission services, provide the bandwidth. While some services have a set bandwidth – e.g. a T-1 circuit is 1.544 Mbps – the bandwidth of other services such as wireless or fiber optic service is determined by the service provider. If you are not sure of the speed of your service, check your bill, review your contract (if applicable), or ask your service provider. This information is very important for data collection purposes; as above, PIA must ask you for this information if it is not on your attachment.

If you are submitting a copy of your bill as all or part of your Item 21 attachment:

  • Pick a bill that represents your typical monthly costs. One month is generally sufficient. Don’t send bills for all 12 months of service for the previous year.
  • Make sure the dollar amount of the bill is typical of your monthly costs and supports your request. A bill for $100 will not support a request for $150 per month. Also, a bill for a month when school is not in session may not accurately reflect your typical monthly costs. If you expect your expenses for an FRN for the new funding year to be greater than that reflected on the bill you submit (as part of your Item 21 attachment) from the current year, you need to explain why the amount you are budgeting for the new year is a reasonable estimate for the new year.
  • Include the page(s) that detail any miscellaneous charges and/or credits. Your reviewer must be able to identify those costs to determine their eligibility.
  • Identify any ineligible charges. You can submit a bill with ineligible charges – just make sure you clearly identify them. If they are not identified, the PIA reviewer will have to ask you additional questions.

– Internet Access

For digital transmission circuit(s) for basic conduit access to the Internet, provide the bandwidth of the services you are requesting. As above, if you are requesting more than one circuit, include the number of circuits. 

If you are requesting web hosting services, ask your service provider for a cost allocation and provide it as part of your attachment. The changes to the Eligible Services List for FY2011 have made more interactive communication features such as blogs and discussion boards eligible, which means that the percentage of your service provider’s eligible charges may have increased.

  • Clearly identify the total cost of the service as well the percentage of the total cost for which you are seeking funding. For example, if a web hosting company’s service is 75% eligible and the service costs $100 per month, state that you are seeking discounts on $75 of the $100 per month and not requesting discounts on the ineligible 25%. By identifying the eligible and ineligible portions beforehand, you will reduce questions from PIA and ensure that you have budgeted sufficiently to pay for your share of the service.

– Internal Connections

For all Internal Connections requests, provide the make and model number and the quantity of any equipment included in your funding request. PIA will ask for this information if it is not already included.

For bundled products, in addition to the make and model numbers, provide the SKU. Bundled products often contain ineligible components or features, and USAC works with many service providers to ensure that cost allocations appropriately reflect eligible and ineligible components of bundled service. The SKU, or stock-keeping unit, is a unique identifying number assigned by a company to each of its products and/or services. With this information, USAC can more easily identify and apply the correct cost allocation.

Equipment that can be used in both eligible and ineligible ways should have its function(s) clearly identified. For example, a server can be eligible if used for email but not eligible if used for caching. If you are requesting a web server or terminal server, be sure to state the specific functions it will be performing and provide a cost allocation if some of the functions are ineligible.

If you are requesting discounts on equipment such as cabinets, racks, and UPSs, identify the equipment they are supporting. These types of equipment are eligible only in proportion to the eligibility of the equipment they serve or house. Although you may be ordering these types of equipment along with fully eligible internal connections equipment, PIA cannot assume that only those eligible items will be housed on the accompanying cabinet or rack or supported by the UPS.

  • If only eligible equipment will be supported or housed, you should state that and provide the make and model numbers of the eligible equipment.
  • If both eligible and ineligible equipment will be supported or housed, you should provide that information together with an appropriate cost allocation.

– Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections

Provide a list of all of the equipment being supported by the basic maintenance. This list should include the make, model number, quantity, and location of the equipment being supported.

State the basic maintenance tasks that will be performed and the costs associated with those tasks. As a reminder, services such as software upgrades and patches – including bug fixes and security patches – and online and telephone-based technical assistance and tools may be invoiced as a one-time charge. Other basic maintenance tasks such as those performed on a time and material basis will continue to be funded; however, USAC will only process invoices for actual work performed or for hours of labor actually used.

If your basic maintenance contract includes both eligible and ineligible equipment, be sure you can provide a clearly identifiable price for the ineligible equipment. (Examples of ineligible equipment include desktop computers and telephones.) Note that we do not recommend having a single contract for both eligible and ineligible maintenance services.

Service provider assistance

Remember that it is entirely appropriate to involve your service provider in the process of creating your Item 21 attachment. Your service provider may have specific details that USAC needs or be able to easily provide network diagrams, SKUs, or other information not readily available to you.

Be sure also to share with your service provider a copy of the Item 21 attachment you submit to USAC. This will help your service provider understand exactly what you are requesting, and will be invaluable during the application review and invoicing processes.

Submitting your Item 21 attachment(s)

 Here are your options for submitting your Item 21 attachment(s):

1. File online using the Item 21 Attachment button in the Form 471 column on the Apply Online page. You will need your Billed Entity Number, your Form 471 Application Number, and your Form 471 Security Code. (You cannot file your attachment online if you submit your Form 471 on paper.)

2. Attach your submission to an email message and send it to:

attachments@sl.universalservice.org

3. Fax your submission to:

(973) 599-6511

4. Mail your submission to:

SLD Forms
Form 471 – Item 21 Attachment
P.O. Box 7026
Lawrence, KS 66044-7026

5. Send your submission by delivery service to:

SLD Forms
ATTN: Form 471 – Item 21 Attachment
3833 Greenway Drive
Lawrence, KS 66046
TELEPHONE: 1-888-203-8100

For more information, refer to the Item 21 Attachments guidance document on the USAC website.