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Last week, the government shutdown ended.  Shuttered government agencies re-opened on Monday morning.  The FCC announced yesterday that it has further extended the deadlines for filings that were due during the shutdown.  This new announcement supersedes all of the FCC’s previous extension announcements.

Accordingly, the FCC has established the following general deadline extensions for filings other than NORS and DIRS filings and filings related to spectrum auction activities:

  • All filings that were due between January 3 and January 7, are due today, January 30, 2019.
  • All filings that were due between January 8 and February 7 are due on February 8, 2019.

ULS Deadlines

The FCC’s Public Notice stated that all Universal Licensing System (ULS) applications and notifications that were originally due on January 3 through and including February 8 are now due on February 8, 2019.

All applications that were filed in ULS during the shutdown will be entered into ULS over the next few weeks with a January 29 receipt date.

Responsive Pleadings

Any reply or responsive pleadings that were due during the shutdown have also been extended and are now due on February 8, 2019.

Special Temporary Authority

Any Special Temporary Authority (STA) licenses that were scheduled to expire from January 3 through January 29 have been extended to February 8, 2019 (with the exception of STA’s related to post-incentive auction transitions).

Fee Payments

The Commission has extended all fee payments originally due between January 3 and February 7 to February 8, 2019.  However, this extension only applies to fee payments that can only be made through the FCC’s Fee Filer System.

Tower Construction Notification System

The Commission’s Tower Construction Notification System (TCNS) became operational this afternoon.  Because the system had been offline while the FCC suspended operations, deadlines and Tribal review timelines for filings in the TCNS system have been tolled between January 3 and January 30.  Therefore, the TCNS review clock for any Form 620 submissions filed prior to the shutdown were stopped on January 3 and resumed on January 30.

Additional Items

In addition to the extensions discussed above, Commission staff will consider requests for further extensions in individual matters on a case-by-case basis.

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For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

The FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II Auction concluded last week.  The auction allocated nearly $1.5 billion in federal funding over the next decade to support broadband deployments in unserved areas of 45 different states.  This aggregate amount was almost $50M per year ($500M for ten years) short of the available CAF II funds.  Electric cooperatives, terrestrial fixed wireless providers, satellite operators, and incumbent local exchange carriers were among the winning bidders.

The FCC announced the winning bidders as an attachment to a Public Notice earlier this week.  The Public Notice sets forth the next steps for auction winners, including a requirement that each winning bidder submit a post-auction application for support (FCC Form 683) by October 15, 2018.  Further information about completing the FCC Form 683 is available here.  The Public Notice also clarifies that winning bidders may assign some, or all, of their winning bids to related entities.  The Public Notice sets forth the process for dividing and assigning winning bids.  The deadline for such assignments is September 14, 2018.

The other notable item for auction winners is the FCC extended its original deadline for submitting the letter of credit commitment letters and detailed technology and system design descriptions.  This information is now due by November 5, 2018.

For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

Time is running short for schools and libraries to seek funding for eligible products and services in the 2016 E-Rate funding season. E-Rate provides funding for high speed Internet access, dedicated services, and dark fiber to schools and libraries, as well as premises-based WiFi deployments. The filing process is driven largely by schools and libraries (aka “Applicants”), many of which have already posted applications on the E-Rate Productivity Center (“EPC”) web site managed by the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”). For 2016, schools and libraries have until April 29, 2016 to request discounts on eligible products and services.

Schools and libraries (“the Applicants”) initiate the bidding process by posting a Form 470 on the EPC web site, setting out entity information, services requested, technical contact information and procurement information. The filing window for Applicants to submit a Form 470 remains open until April 1. After posting a Form 470, Applicants must wait 28 days before selecting a service providers’ bid. Since the window for filing Forms 470 is now open, service providers should be accessing USAC’s Form 470 Search Tool or Form 470 Download Reports Tool to view bidding opportunities.

It is important for services providers to bid aggressively; low cost is the primary factor that Applicants must consider when selecting service providers. In addition to pricing, Applicants and prospective bidders should be mindful of the basic rules governing E-Rate bidding and funding. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has entered into numerous consent decrees with both service providers and Applicants, including state agencies, for alleged violations of the competitive bidding process.

When the school or library selects a winning bidder, the Applicant and winning bidder may work together to complete the filing process, which includes finalizing the FCC Form 471. Winning bidders must submit the Form 473 – the Service Provider Annual Certification (“SPAC”) Form—for the initial and subsequent funding years.  This form includes several certifications that service providers must attest to in order to participate in the program.

Prior to releasing funds, USAC must review and approve an Applicant’s Form 471. After approval, USAC will send the Applicant a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (“FCDL”) and notify the service provider that its bid has been approved. There is no set time for USAC to conclude its review of the Applicant’s filing. Some winning bids with extenuating circumstances from 2014 are just now receiving FCDLs.

Last but not least, the Applicant must file a Form 486 informing USAC that approved services have been initiated and that the Applicant is in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (“CIPA”). At this juncture, USAC will begin to pay submitted invoices.