E-rate Update – February 2023

February 6, 2023

Good day, E-raters!  You’ve been asking some great questions and I want to make sure everyone has the benefit of the answers, and also provide some general reminders.

Firewall Eligibility – Currently only basic firewall appliances are eligible for FY 2023.  Some manufacturers bundle advanced features with their firewalls instead of pricing them separately.  In these cases, the vendor should provide you with a % E-rate eligibility for the specific bundle you’re seeking.  Below are links to a few manufacturers that have published their eligibility data for their E-rate product catalogue:

Commenting on E-rate Eligibility of Cyber Security – In December, the FCC released a Public Notice, seeking stakeholder comments on what advanced security tools and services should be considered for E-rate eligible in future funding years.  Comments are due February 13, 2023 and reply comments are due March 30, 2023.  Comments can be filed online at http://www.fcc.gov/ecfs and should refer to the E-rate docket number of 13-184.  Comments can be brief but should be supported with facts and specifics about what’s needed at the local level.  The FCC placed a high value on comments from actual schools and libraries, so please consider weighing in on this important issue.  If commenting, please be sure to read the Public Notice so you know what questions the FCC is asking.

PEPPM Mini-Bids – Several items related to the mini-bids:

– Always download the most recent version of the vendor list (Attachment C) when sending out a mini-bid – http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121.  Vendors sometimes change their contact information or modify their Authorized Reseller List (tab 2).  The “updated date” is always at the top of column R in the first tab.

– There is no current PEPPM contract for the Sophos product line so if this is your preferred manufacturer, you should issue a Form 470/RFP for FY 2023.  We expect that Sophos will be added to the PEPPM contracts and be eligible to respond to PEPPM mini-bids in FY 2024.

– If you issued a PEPPM mini-bid and did not receive any bids, you should reach out to the Awarded Vendor(s) or one of the Authorized Resellers (tab 2) for that product line and seek a proposal.  You are not required to re-start your mini-bidding clock.

Supply Chain Delays – I’ve heard from several school officials who are concerned they will not be able to meet the September 30, 2023 deadline to install their approved FY 2022 equipment due to vendor supply chain delays.  Around June, if you still haven’t received the equipment or are concerned you will not be able to install the equipment by the deadline, you can submit a Form 500 to seek a 1-year extension (through September 30, 2024).  All requests must be made before the September 30 deadline.  As you know, the FCC already granted a 1-year extension for all FY 2021 internal connections requests (from September 2022 – September 2023).  If you are experiencing supply chain delays for that equipment as well, you also will be able to request another 1-year extension as long as the request is submitted by September 30, 2023.

FY 2023 Form 471 Filing Window Dates – The Form 471 Window opened January 18 and will close on March 28.  If you have an existing service in a multi-year contract (no 470 needed), or if you’ve extended your contract and have written documentation that you’ve notified your vendor of the extension, or if you’ve already completed your bidding and signed a signed vendor contract, or if you’re using the CABIO Bidding Exemption Option, you can file your Form 471 now!

Time Running Out to Post 470s – If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to post any last-minute Category 2 Form 470s or PEPPM mini-bids for new equipment, or Category 1 Form 470’s for services needing a new contract or MTM services (MTM must be filed annually).  The very last day that you can post a 470 is February 28, but this only leaves the final day of the Form 471 window – March 28 — to evaluate your bids, obtain local board approvals, sign contracts, upload contracts and complete the 471.  Please don’t wait another minute to file your Form 470!

See you at PETE&C! – The amazing PETE&C Conference is next week!  I’ll be presenting these two E-rate sessions on Tuesday, February 14 in the Ironwood Room and I hope to see you there!

11:30 – 12:20 – E-rate for Beginners – a Crash Course!

2:30 – 3:20 – E-rate Category 2:  Maximizing Your Funding

If you have any questions, please let me know!

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

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