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   DataBus - Vol 41 No. 4: June-July, 2001
The Changing World of E-rate and California Teleconnect Fund

  "Everybody has accepted by now that change is
unavoidable. But that still implies that change is
like death and taxes — it should be postponed as
long as possible and no change would be vastly
preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as
the one we are living in, change is the norm."
— Peter Drucker, Management Challenges for the
21st Century (1999)

There are changes on the horizon in world of telecommunications discounts for both the E-rate and California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) programs. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing new rules for prioritizing internal connections discounts and extending the implementation time line for non-recurring services. Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is proposing changes to CTF rules.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM), CC Docket No. 96-45, FCC 01-143, the FCC is seeking comments on proposed changes to how the priority is established for internal connections E-rate applications and extending the funding year implementation timeline for non-recurring services. The new rules, proposed to begin in E-rate Year 4, would give funding priority to needy schools that did not receive funding for internal connection in the previous funding year. There are several ways to look at this proposed rule change.
  • Schools at lower discount levels may view this as an opportunity to receive E-rate internal connections discounts.
  • Schools that received internal connections funding in the prior year may experience an interruption in their planned implementation of technology.
  • Schools at lower discount levels, who did not apply for E-rate internal connections discounts, may see this as an opportunity lost.
  • Schools whose applications include schools that received prior year internal connections discounts may face denials and appeals.
The consensus of E-rate practitioners across the country is that the FCC should wait until Year 5 before implementing this rule. Visit the your E-rate information sources at the California Department of Education E-rate Web site (www.cde.ca.gov/erate) and the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) Web site (www.sl.universalservice.org) for future updates.
On a different strand, the FCC proposes to extend the Year 3 timeline for implementation of non-recurring services from June 30, 2001 to September 30, 2001 beginning in Year 4.
On the west coast, the CPUC is proposing changes to CTF. Changes include adding consortia as eligible CTF entities; the inclusion of the Digital California Project as an eligible CTF consortium; increasing the CTF budget for claims from $50 million to $55 million beginning in FY 02-03; and eliminating the fund allocation provision to CTF eligible entities.
The increase in the CTF budget for claims is based on the trend of claims filed and the additional cost of DCP participation. Current rules allocate $40 million to schools, $5 million to governmental health care clinics, and $5 million to community-based organizations. In previous years, claims from the health care and community-based organization segments have been less than $200,000 per year. The elimination of the fund allocation will put the entire amount appropriated to the CTF in one container.
E-rate/CTF Training Fall 2001

To provide training and new information about these programs, the Volunteer E-rate Trainers group that delivered E-rate and CTF training across the state last fall recently reconstituted itself as the E-rate/CTF Training and Outreach Collaborative. In April, this collaborative began its planning process for the Fall 2001 E-rate and CTF training by taking a retrospective look at last year's training, investigating new training delivery methods, scheduling time to update training materials and beginning a search for training dates and locations. The target is to deliver E-rate/CTF training during September and October 2001. If you have ideas for training that could help mold this year's training, contact Wayne Shimizu in the California Department of Education - Education Technology Office at (916) 322-5894 or .
Wayne Shimizu is an Education Programs Consultant for the California Department of Education's Educational Technology Office.