FCC Extends E-Rate Program Deadlines Due to COVID-19

 

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission announced extensions of key E-Rate service implementation and filing deadlines to provide relief to program participants affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  These extensions, granted by the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, will alleviate administrative and compliance burdens on schools and libraries and enable them to focus on transitioning to remote learning during the pandemic.

Given the disruptions caused by COVID-19, today’s order waives the so-called service implementation deadline for special construction for all funding year 2019 applicants and extends this deadline by one year, from June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2021.  Under Commission rules, applicants must complete special construction (e.g., deploying fiber) and the network must be “lit” or in use by June 30 of the applicable funding year.  With schools and libraries closed for lengthy periods of time, the order recognizes that service providers may not be allowed on the premises and may experience significant challenges in meeting this construction deadline. 

“In light of extended school and library closures, we’re granting an across-the-board, one-year extension of the E-Rate special construction deadline for funding year 2019,” said Chairman Ajit Pai.  “By providing this proactive relief, we want to ease burdens on schools and libraries to allow them to focus their time and resources on transitioning their students, patrons, teachers, and staff to remote learning during this crisis.  This is yet another step the FCC is taking to offer help to students and teachers in need—and I look forward to continue working with Congress to fund a Remote Learning Initiative so that every child can continue being educated during the pandemic.”

As part of today’s order, the Bureau also (1) extends the service delivery deadline for non-recurring services for funding year 2019 by one year, from September 30, 2020 to September 30, 2021; (2) grants schools and libraries an automatic 60-day extension to file requests for review or waiver of decisions by the E-Rate program administrator, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC); (3) provides applicants and service providers an automatic 120-day extension of the invoice filing deadline; and (4) gives all program participants an additional 30-day extension to respond to certain information requests from USAC. 

Last month, the Bureau directed USAC to extend the deadline for funding year 2020 E-Rate applications to April 29 and the Bureau waived the E-Rate program’s gift rules to make it easier for broadband providers to support remote learning efforts during the pandemic. 

To view today’s order, visit https://go.usa.gov/xvCGP.  For more information on Chairman Pai’s Keep Americans Connected Initiative, visit fcc.gov/keepamericansconnected.

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