Apr 13 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Recent program changes made by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) have created substantial confusion among E-Rate Program applicants and service providers. E-Rate is designed to give schools and libraries affordable access to internet and telecom services. The executive director of the Schools Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition said the confusion caused by the changes could cause hundreds of E-Rate applicants to lose out on funding due to this technicality.

Last Month, Womble Bond Dickinson attorneys Rebecca Jacobs Goldman and Mark Palchick met with the FCC, on behalf of client Ohio Information Technology Centers, to share these concerns. 

In its April 13 edition, Communications Daily interviewed Goldman about the E-Rate issue.

The concerns center on filing guidelines and definitions of permitted eligible services for purposes of the FCC Form 470, which allows schools and libraries to seek bids for eligible services. USAC has changed this process, without formal Commission approval, and in contradiction to previous FCC guidance. And, according to the Commission, guidance provided by USAC is not binding on the Commission nor can it be relied upon for funding decisions.  School and library administrators are uncertain how to properly apply for funding, and are worried that they will be denied E-Rate support.

Goldman tells Communications Daily that Ohio Information Technology Centers support a “safe harbor for applicants who may have filed improperly due to the changes.”

Goldman and Palchick, representing the Ohio Information Technology Centers, have asked the FCC to provide formal clarification on the E-Rate filing process and to protect applicants that were adversely affected by the unauthorized changes made by USAC. A number of industry organizations, including CSM Consulting, Inc., Funds for Learning, LLC, and the State E-Rate Coordinators Alliance, also filed letters in support of the Ohio Information Technology Centers’ request for clarification and protection to applicants.

Click here to read “Advocates Seek FCC Relief for E-Rate Applicants ‘Confused’ by USAC Form Change, Guidance” in Communications Daily (subscription required).

And click here to read “Womble Bond Dickinson’s Rebecca Jacobs Goldman, Mark Palchick Voice Concerns to the FCC about Changes to the E-rate Program on Behalf of the Ohio Information Technology Centers”.

Rebecca Jacobs Goldman has a diverse communications law practice, guiding clients in media law, Internet, telecom, cable, broadcast and privacy/data protection matters. She counsels communications industry clients in negotiating contracts and complex business transactions, as well as helping them resolve disputes and regulatory challenges. Her clients include cable operators, broadband service providers, video programmers, network operators, spectrum owners, radio broadcasters and telecommunications companies.