News

SLD News 8/23/13 Focus: Fall Training and Form 498

 August 23, 2013  

TIP OF THE WEEK: If you use the View 471 Status tool, remember that the status of each form appears at the top of your search results, to the right of its application number and applicant form identifier. The table below your results contains an explanation of each status.

Commitments for Funding Years 2013, 2012, and 2011

Funding Year 2013. USAC will release Funding Year (FY) 2013 Wave 15 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 28. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of August 23, FY2013 commitments total over $415 million and encompass 20,489 of FY2013 applications.

Funding Year 2012. USAC will release FY2012 Wave 57 FCDLs August 29. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 90 percent and denials at 89 percent and below. As of August 23, FY2012 commitments total over $2.73 billion.

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 101 FCDLs August 27. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 requests at 88 percent and above and denials at 87 percent and below. As of August 23, FY2011 commitments total over $2.62 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.

Update on Online Invoicing

Testing for the new online FCC Form 472 (BEAR Form) is almost complete. Look for a Special SL News Brief early next week announcing the availability of the new form online.

Applicants and service providers should review the paper version of the new BEAR Form and the new BEAR Form instructions before filing the form. Specifically, note that the certification language has changed for both applicants and service providers, and applicants now provide BEAR remittance information to assist service providers.

For a detailed list of the changes from the old (April 2007) version of the form, refer to the August 9 SL News Brief.

Fall Training Update – Hotel Reservation Deadlines

USAC will be sending reminder emails out soon to everyone registered for one of the fall applicant training sessions. While it is not necessary to confirm your registration, we would greatly appreciate it if you would email USAC to cancel your registration if you no longer intend to use it.  

Remember also that you must make a room reservation if you want to stay at the conference hotel. The table below shows the last day to make a reservation at the negotiated conference room rate. Rooms may not be available – or may be more expensive – if you try to make a reservation after these dates.

City Conference Hotel Reservation Deadline
Washington DC Renaissance Arlington Capital View September 9
Newark NJ Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott September 24
Minneapolis MN Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Mall of America September 16
St. Louis MO Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel September 30
Atlanta GA Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel October 2
Houston TX Westin Oaks Houston at the Galleria October 7
Los Angeles CA Westin Los Angeles Airport October 14
Portland OR Doubletree Portland October 6

 If you have questions or need more information, please email USAC.

New FCC Form 498 Now Available

As of August 20, 2013, all service providers must now use the new FCC Form 498 (August 2013) when applying for a new Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) or when making changes to contact or remittance information to an existing SPIN.

The new FCC Form 498 is available through the Forms page of the USAC website. (This link contains the instructions followed by the form itself.) No prior years’ forms will be accepted; all FCC Forms 498 mailed to USAC (postmarked after August 20) must use the new version of the form or they will not be processed. Service providers who submit an outdated form will receive notice from USAC that the form could not be processed. FCC Form 498 E-File users will automatically see the new version of the form upon log in, and their information will pre-populate.

The changes to the form largely affect service providers participating in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program. However, note that the new Block 16 contains the option for Schools and Libraries service providers to net their payments against their USF obligations.

On August 19, 2013, the FCC released Public Notice DA 13-1777 explaining the changes to the form. If you have questions, call USAC at 1 (888) 641-8722 or visit the Service Providers section of the USAC website.

 

ACCESS TO BROADBAND FOR FIRST TIME

UP TO 600,000 RURAL HOMES AND BUSINESSES IN 44 STATES AND PUERTO RICO WILL GAIN ACCESS TO BROADBAND FOR FIRST TIME.   Over $385 Million From FCC’s Connect America Fund To Leverage Private Investment For Expanding Broadband In Unserved Areas.  News Release. News Media Contact: Justin Cole at (202) 418-8191, email: Justin.Cole@fcc.gov  OCMC WCB  http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-322945A1.doc

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-322945A1.pdf

 

SLD News 8/16/13 – Focus: Filing Form 486

 August 16, 2013 

TIP OF THE WEEK: If you are preparing to file an FCC Form 486, review the information below. Remember that you cannot file this form for a Funding Request Number (FRN) until USAC has issued a commitment for that FRN.

Commitments for Funding Years 2013, 2012, and 2011

Funding Year 2013. USAC will release Funding Year (FY) 2013 Wave 14 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 21. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of August 16, FY2013 commitments total just under $374 million and encompass 19,520 of FY2013 applications.

Funding Year 2012. USAC will release FY2012 Wave 56 FCDLs August 22. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 90 percent and denials at 89 percent and below. As of August 16, FY2012 commitments total over $2.72 billion.

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 100 FCDLs August 20. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 requests at 88 percent and above and denials at 87 percent and below. As of August 16, FY2011 commitments total over $2.62 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.

Update on Online Invoicing

Work on the new online FCC Form 472 (BEAR Form) is in the final phases of testing. We expect the online form to be available within the next two weeks.

If you need assistance filing a paper BEAR Form, refer to the FCC Form 472 Instructions posted on the Forms page or call the Client Service Bureau (CSB) at 1-888-203-8100. Remember that the July 2013 PDF version of the form now has fill-in, print-out capability.

Tips for Filing FCC Form 486 Online

In the June 7 SL News Brief we discussed the FCC Form 486, Receipt of Service Confirmation Form. This form notifies USAC that services have started and invoices for those services can be paid. It also indicates that the applicant’s technology plan – if required – has been approved by a USAC-certified Technology Plan Approver and provides the status of compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Below are some online filing tips for FCC Form 486; note that the first four tips also apply to forms filed on paper.

Use the information from your FCDL to file your form.

The Billed Entity Number (BEN), funding year, FCC Form 471 application number, and FRN are all associated in USAC’s system. If you enter data on a line in FCC Form 486 Block 3 (Service Information) that is inconsistent with the information associated in our system, you will receive an error message. If you are filing on paper, we will contact you and request a correction or additional information in order to complete the data entry of your form.

We suggest that you have the FUNDING COMMITMENT REPORT section of your FCDL handy when you are completing your FCC Form 486. If you use the information from that report, you should be able to enter your FRNs in Block 3 of the FCC Form 486 without encountering an error message.

Include FRNs from different FY2013 FCC Forms 471 on one FCC Form 486.

The FCC Form 486 is specific to a funding year and a Billed Entity. If you filed several FY2013 FCC Forms 471 and you have commitments for FRNs that appeared on more than one of those forms, you can file one FCC Form 486 for FY2013 and list all of the committed FRNs on that one form.

Note, however, that if you have recently received an FCDL for several FRNs from FY2012 and another FCDL for several FRNs from FY2013, you must file two separate FCC Forms 486, one for each funding year.

In Item 5, identify the contact person that should get program letters.

USAC issues certain letters to the contact person in Item 5 of the FCC Form 486. Specifically, USAC will issue both the applicant version of the FCC Form 486 Notification Letter and the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form Notification Letter to that contact person. Make sure that the contact person you identify on the FCC Form 486 is also the person that should receive those letters.

Complete Item 8 appropriately.

Beginning with FY2011, technology plans are not required for Priority 1 services. Because the technology plan certification on the FCC Form 486 has not yet been updated, applicants filing FY2013 FCC Forms 486 featuring funding requests for Priority 1 services only should complete Block 4, Item 8 of the FCC Form 486 as follows:

  • If you are filing online using the expert version (see below), check the box next to Item 8, choose “Other” from the dropdown menu, and enter “NONE” in the resulting text box.
  • If you are filing online using the interview version (see below), check the box next to Item 8 and click on “I agree,” then choose “Other” from the dropdown menu and click “Go,” then type “NONE” in the resulting text box.
  • If you are filing on paper, check the box next to Item 8 and write “NONE” in the space below the Item 8 certification.

Follow these online filing navigation tips.

We strongly suggest that you use Internet Explorer 6.0 or above to file an FCC Form 486 online. Other web browsers may produce inconsistent results or cause errors.

Here are a few more tips related to online navigation:

  • Clear your Internet cache and temporary Internet files. These may contain data that could replace or add to the data you enter.
  • Allow popups. Many of the warning and error messages that help you through the form are formatted as popups.
  • Enable cookies. This preserves certain information that makes subsequent filings easier and also can help USAC diagnose problems.
  • Use the “Tab” key to move from one field to the next on a page. You can also use your mouse to click in the fields where you want to enter information.
  • Don’t use your browser’s “Forward” and “Back” buttons. Instead, use the navigation buttons in the form.
  • Don’t open multiple tabs in the browser window you are using to file your form. You may encounter difficulties if you do so.
  • Enter your Block 4 certifications before you enter your Block 3 FRN information. After you complete Block 2, the online form navigates to the certifications in Block 4, then to the FRN information in Block 3, Item 7. This allows the system to check your certifications against the category of service for each FRN you enter and give you an error message if appropriate (e.g., if you indicate in Item 11 that CIPA doesn’t apply and then try to enter an Internal Connections FRN).

For more information and tips on online filing, refer to the Tips and Troubleshooting document posted on the USAC website.

Try the expert version of the online FCC Form 486 if you have trouble with the interview version.

Data you enter in an online FCC Form 486 is saved in USAC’s database and can be accessed through the Apply Online page by both the expert version and the interview version of the form (the “Create Form 486” button and “Form 486 Interview” button respectively). In the expert version, you enter information directly into the form, while the interview version asks you a series of questions and then enters your answers in the appropriate form fields. If you wish, you can start with one version of the form, save your work before you push the Submit button, and later complete the form using the other version.

  • To continue an incomplete form using the expert version, click on the “Continue Incomplete” button in the Form 486 column of the Apply Online page.
  • To continue an incomplete form using the interview version, click on the “Form 486 Interview” button in the Form 486 column of the Apply Online page.
  • Remember that you must have your FCC Form 486 application number and your security code to access an incomplete form. We suggest that you use your browser’s “Print” function to print the page that contains these numbers after you complete Block 1 of the form online.

Pay attention to any popups or warning messages that occur.

The online system has built-in popups to notify you of errors and provide certain other helpful information. This allows you to make necessary corrections before you submit your form. The system also populates some information in the form based on information you have already entered.

Many applicants that file forms on paper fail to provide all necessary entries or include entries that are inconsistent. They must then wait for USAC to contact them because the missing or inconsistent information prevents USAC from completing data entry. Moreover, if USAC cannot reach the applicant to get the correct information, the form may be rejected.

If you are having difficulty with an FCC Form 486 online or on paper, you can Submit a Question or call the Client Service Bureau at 1-888-203-8100 to get help.

 

SLD News 8/9/13 – Focus: Use of consultants

 August 9, 2013 

TIP OF THE WEEK: The Client Service Bureau will only discuss specific FCC Form 471 information with the contact person or the authorized person identified on that form if the information is not publicly available. If you are not the contact person in Item 6a or the authorized person in Item 40 of the FCC Form 471, be prepared to provide evidence of your authorization to discuss the information on the form.

Commitments for Funding Years 2013 and 2012

Funding Year 2013. USAC will release Funding Year (FY) 2013 Wave 13 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 14. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of August 9, FY2013 commitments total over $338 million and encompass 18,555 of FY2013 applications.

Funding Year 2012. USAC will release FY2012 Wave 55 FCDLs August 15. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 90 percent and denials at 89 percent and below. As of August 9, FY2012 commitments total over $2.71 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.

Update on Online Invoicing

The new FCC Form 474 (SPI Form) is now available online. Following are changes to the new form compared to the old form:

  • The fifth item on the old (April 2007) form, Invoice Number, has been renamed Service Provider Form Identifier and moved to the top left-hand corner of the form.
  • The sixth item on the old form, Invoice Date to USAC, has been removed.
  • A new item, Discount Rate, has been added as Column 12 in Block 2.
  • Items and columns have been renumbered to accommodate the above changes, and unnecessary or confusing text has been removed.
  • The authorized person certifying the form must provide identification and contact information in the new Items 14 – 19.

If you need assistance in completing the new (July 2013) version of the form, you can refer to the FCC Form 474 Instructions posted on the Forms page of the USAC website or call the Client Service Bureau (CSB).

Work on the new online FCC Form 472 (BEAR Form) continues, with a targeted completion date later this month. To assist applicants using the new form, USAC has added fill-in, print-out capability to the July 2013 PDF version of the form. Please note the following:

  • The information you provide in Block 1 of the form (the Applicant Form Identifier and Items 1, 2, 4, and 5) automatically populates in the headers of subsequent pages of the form. If you notice a mistake in a header, you must fix it in the related Block 1 entry.
  • Block 1, Item 6, Total Reimbursement Amount, will automatically update after you complete each line of information in Block 2.
  • Check the information you enter in Block 2 very carefully. The FCC Form 471 Application Number, Funding Request Number, and Discount Rate must be consistent with the information in your FCDL (or Revised FCDL if one was issued).
  • Be sure to complete the Applicant Remittance Information at the bottom of page 4 before you send your form to your service provider. The service provider can then use this information to issue BEAR payments if you have not made other arrangements.

If you need assistance, refer to the FCC Form 472 Instructions posted on the Forms page or call CSB.

Consultant Registration Numbers

Now that applicants are filing FCC Forms 470 for FY2014, we are providing the information below for those applicants that are using consultants and need more information on Consultant Registration Numbers to complete Item 7 of the form.

What is the definition of a consultant?

A consultant is any non-employee of the entity applying for funding that assists in filling out the application materials for a fee. Consultants may be organizations with one or more employees or they may be individuals.

The term “consultant” below refers to the name – whether an organization or an individual – linked to the Consultant Registration Number and entered in the “Consultant Name” field on the FCC Form 470.

What is a Consultant Registration Number?

A Consultant Registration Number (CRN) is a unique eight-digit identification number assigned by USAC to a specific consultant. Employees of a consultant will not be required to obtain individual CRNs but will use the CRN of the consultant.

If a consultant is assisting an applicant with the application process, the consultant’s CRN is entered in Block 1, Item 7 of the FCC Form 470 and/or Block 1, Item 6g of the FCC Form 471.

How does a consultant obtain a CRN?

To get a CRN, a consultant should call the Client Service Bureau (CSB) at 1-888-203-8100 and be prepared to provide the following consultant information:

  • Consultant Name
  • Consultant Street Address, City, State, and Zip Code
  • Consultant Telephone Number
  • Consultant Fax Number
  • Consultant Email Address

If the consultant has one or more employees, the following information is required for each employee:

  • Employee Name
  • Employee Telephone Number
  • Employee Email Address

CSB will first search by zip code, then by street address, to find out if USAC already has a CRN on file. If so – and if there are no changes to any of the contact information – CSB can provide the CRN over the phone.

If CSB must create a new record, or if there are changes required to an existing record, CSB will request that the changes be sent by fax to 1-888-276-8736 or by email. After the record has been created or updated, CSB can reply to the fax or email and provide the CRN.

How does an applicant find the CRN for its consultant?

If the consultant is completing a form on behalf of the applicant, the consultant can enter the CRN. If the applicant is completing a form, the applicant can obtain the CRN from the consultant or call CSB. CSB can provide the CRN over the telephone as long as the applicant provides enough information for CSB to identify a specific consultant.

  • Consultants and applicants filing online should check after entering the CRN to verify that the correct consultant information is populated in the form.

Where is consultant information located on FCC Form 470 and FCC Form 471?

Consultant information is entered in Block 1, Item 7 of the FCC Form 470 and Block 1, Item 6g of the FCC Form 471. Applicants filing online will enter the CRN, and consultant contact information will populate automatically. If the consultant has employees, those employee names will be populated in a drop-down menu and the applicant can choose the appropriate employee.

Applicants filing on paper must complete all relevant fields.

 

SLD News 8/2/13 – Focus: Appeals

 August 2, 2013 

TIP OF THE WEEK: If you are filing an appeal with USAC or the FCC, be sure to review the June 21 SL News Brief for the information you should include. Appeals that are missing important details – such as complete contact information, the specific decision being appealed, or relevant documentation – are more difficult to process.Commitments for Funding Years 2013, 2012, and 2011

Funding Year 2013. USAC will release Funding Year (FY) 2013 Wave 12 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 6. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of August 2, FY2013 commitments total over $299 million and encompass 18,555 of FY2013 applications.

Funding Year 2012. USAC will release FY2012 Wave 54 FCDLs August 7. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 90 percent and denials at 89 percent and below. As of August 2, FY2012 commitments total over $2.68 billion. 

Funding Year 2011. USAC released FY2011 Wave 98 FCDLs July 25 and will release Wave 99 FCDLs August 7. These waves include commitments for approved Priority 2 requests at 88 percent and above and denials at 87 percent and below. As of August 2, FY2011 commitments total just under $2.62 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.

Update on Online Invoicing

The online FCC Form 474 (SPI Form) has entered the final phase of testing. We expect the online version of the form to be available by the end of next week.

  • Paper filers – continue filing as usual. You can also use the email and fax options described below.
  • Online filers – be prepared to submit the revised form as soon as it is available online.
  • Electronic filers – continue to follow the guidance provided to you in the July 19 Special Edition News Brief and by email.

Work on the online FCC Form 472 (BEAR Form) continues. For the time being, BEAR Forms must still be completed on paper. You can:

  • Scan the completed form and email it to USAC.
  • Fax the completed form to USAC at 1-888-276-8736.
  • Use the appropriate address at the bottom of the form to submit the form by U.S. Mail or delivery service.

In all cases, you must use the July 2013 version of the form. Applicants take note: You must complete the Applicant Remittance Information at the bottom of page 4, and your service provider must complete that page and return it to you for submission to USAC.

What to Do After You Win an Appeal

If program participants disagree with a USAC decision, they can file an appeal with either USAC or the FCC and request a review of USAC’s decision. If the appeal is successful, applicants and/or service providers may still be required to complete additional steps or provide more information in order to finish the application and invoicing processes.

Appeal decisions issued by USAC are communicated by an Administrator’s Decision Letter (ADL). Under certain circumstances, USAC also issues a Revised Funding Commitment Decision Letter (RFCDL).

  • The ADL is sent to the appellant (applicant, service provider, or consultant) at the address featured on the appeal. The ADL contains the appeal decision as well as a discussion of how USAC arrived at that decision. Note that if a consultant is both the Block 1 contact person and the Block 6 authorized person, USAC sends the ADL to the consultant.
  • The RFCDL is issued to the applicant at the address featured on the associated FCC Form 471 and also to the affected service provider(s). The RFCDL contains information specific to changes in the funding decision.

Here is a table of USAC’s appeal decisions and the letter(s) that are issued for each decision:

Appeal Decision ADL RFCDL
Approved in Full
Approved for Data Entry  
Approved for In Window Certification  
Approved, Funding Denied  
Approved, Funding Reduced
Approved for Further Review  
Canceled  
Denied  
Dismissed  
Partially Approved
Partially Approved, Funding Denied  
Partially Approved, Funding Reduced

 

NOTE: If the contact information on the appeal and/or the associated FCC Form 471 has changed since the appeal was filed, you should update the contact information on the form and notify your appeal reviewer so that USAC can issue the ADL and RFCDL to the correct person at the correct address.

Below we discuss three common types of appeals and the steps successful appellants, applicants, and service providers should be prepared to take in each case.

Funding denials that are appealed to USAC

As you can see from the table above, if USAC determines on appeal that funding should have been committed on a funding request that was originally reduced or denied, USAC will issue an ADL to the appellant and an RFCDL to the applicant and affected service provider(s).

  • The appellant should share the information in the ADL with all affected parties.
  • Both the applicant and the service provider(s) should review the RFCDL. The RFCDL contains the amount of the revised funding decision as well as a short explanation of the change in the amount and any other changes implemented during the appeal review.
  • The applicant should determine whether a request to change service providers (an operational SPIN change) and/or a service substitution request is necessary. For example, the service provider of record may have gone out of business, or the product or service in the original request may no longer be available. Keep in mind that, starting with FY2011 funding requests, there are additional requirements for operational SPIN changes.
  • If no changes are required, the applicant should file an FCC Form 486, Receipt of Service Confirmation Form, within 120 days of the date of the commitment letter (FCDL or RFCDL) or the service start date, whichever is later, to avoid a penalty for late filing.
    • If the funding request was originally denied on the FCDL, the applicant calculates this deadline using the date of the RFCDL.
    • If the funding request was approved as submitted or modified or reduced on the FCDL (i.e., some funding was committed), the applicant calculates this deadline using the date of the FCDL.
  • For contracted services, the applicant should determine whether the contract must be extended. If so, the applicant and service provider should work together to extend the contract. The applicant must then report the new contract expiration date to USAC by filing an FCC Form 500, Adjustment to Funding Commitment and Modification to Receipt of Service Confirmation Form.
  • Applicants and service providers should work together to make sure that the eligible services approved in the RFCDL – if not already received – are delivered and installed in a timely manner and invoiced appropriately.

Invoice deadline extension denials that are appealed to USAC

If USAC determines on appeal that a request for an invoice deadline extension that was originally denied should be approved, USAC issues an ADL to the appellant. In general, if approved, the extended invoice deadline is 120 days after the date of the ADL.

  • The appellant should share the information in the ADL with all affected parties.
  • If an invoice – FCC Form 472 (BEAR Form) or FCC Form 474 (SPI Form) – was filed and processed for the funding request in the past, the invoicing mode for that funding request has already been set. That mode (BEAR or SPI) should be used for any invoices submitted after the ADL is issued.
  • As above, the applicant should determine whether an operational SPIN change request and/or a service substitution request is necessary.
  • The applicant and service provider should work together to verify that the required program forms have been filed (FCC Form 486 for the applicant and FCC Form 473, Service Provider Annual Certification Form, for the service provider), the eligible services on the funding request have been delivered and installed, and the customer bills have been correctly issued and paid before completing the invoicing process.
  • DO NOT wait until the last minute to invoice USAC. The invoicing process – whether BEAR or SPI – should be completed as expeditiously as possible.

Appeals remanded to USAC by the FCC

If the FCC grants an appeal of a USAC decision, the FCC issues an order and may remand the associated application to USAC for further processing.

  • The FCC will issue a memo to the appellant. The memo will contain the proceeding number (generally in the format DA xx-xxx) and the release date of the order that contains the appeal decision.
  • The appellant and all affected parties should carefully review the information contained in the order. To locate the order, go to the EDOCS search page on the FCC website, enter the proceeding number in the box labeled “DA/FCC Number,” and click Search. The order can be viewed as a text, Word, or PDF document.
  • The order contains information about how the FCC reached its decision and gives specific direction to USAC on how to proceed. Note that some appeals are granted outright, while others will require USAC to start or continue its review of an application or request. This review may require the applicant and/or service provider(s) to respond to additional questions from USAC.
  • When USAC has completed its work, it will issue decision letters as described in the above section. Note, however, that USAC does not issue an ADL on an FCC remand if the appeal is approved in full and other types of decision letters are issued as a result of the approved appeal (e.g., an RFCDL or an FCC Form 486 Notification Letter).
 
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