E-rate Category Two Funds Available
One of the goals of the E-rate modernization order released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on July 23, 2014, was to increase the certainty and predictability of funding for Wi-Fi services in schools. In this order, the FCC implemented the five-year budget approach to provide support for category two internal Wi-Fi connections through funding year 2019. The FCC has budgeted one billion dollars per year for category two internal Wi-Fi connections. Each eligible school shall be eligible for support for category two services up to a pre-discount amount of $150 per student over a five-year funding cycle, with a $9,200 pre-discount funding floor.
Considerations when deciding whether or not to apply for category two funds:
- All category two funding requests, which met eligibility requirements, have been funded.
- The five-year budget approach for category two internal connections has been approved through 2019 and will expire if the FCC board does not take action to renew.
- The FCC, responsible for overseeing E-rate, has a new chairman. New leadership may result in changes to current rules.
FCC Grants Two Limited Waivers of the Category of Services Classification Standards Established in the FY 2017 Eligible Services List
The FCC has issued two limited waivers in connection with the Fund Year 2017 Eligible Services List (ESL). The ESL provided, for the first time, a question and answer section to address when a connection, such as a high-speed transport line, should be classified as a category one service and when it should be classified as a category two service. The changes resulted in some services that were previously considered category two being reclassified as category one. The question and answer section created confusion and provided what seemed to be conflicting guidance. To address this, the FCC issued two limited waivers, please see the FCC Order DA 17-151 pdf at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0208/DA-17-151A1.pdf.
The February 17, 2017 Schools and Libraries Program (SL) News Brief, which can be found on USAC’s Web site at http://www.usac.org/sl/tools/news-briefs/preview.aspx?id=750, provides a summary of the situations to which these two limited waivers apply. Questions about the waivers and the intended affect should be directed to the Client Service Bureau, which can be reached at 1-888-203-8100.
To view the 2017 Eligible Services List, please see the FCC Order DA 16-1023 pdf at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-1023A1.pdf.
Category Two Budgets Increase 1 Percent
The second E-rate modernization order requires that the E-rate funding cap be adjusted to reflect annual inflationary changes. The annual inflationary change is also reflected in the category two budget. For more information, please see the FCC Public Notice DA 16-505 pdf at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-505A1_Rcd.pdf.
Totals for the pre-discount category two budget, amount committed, and the remaining balance can be viewed using the Category Two Budget Tool in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC).
Follow the steps below to navigate to the Category Two Budget Tool:
- From the My Landing Page in EPC scroll down to ‘My Entities’ and select a school site. This will take you to that site’s profile page.
- The menu on the left side of the screen contains a link called ‘Category Two Budget’. Select the link to find the updated category two budget.
Schools and Libraries Program Weekly News Briefs on E-rate
The Schools and Libraries Program (SLP) provides timely instruction and insight through their Weekly News Brief. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to sign up to receive these communications by visiting the SLP’s Web page at http://www.usac.org/sl/tools/news-briefs/Default.aspx.
If you have any questions, please contact the California Department of Education (CDE) Educational Data Management Division by e-mail