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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Interesting news from the SLD

The monthly service provider conference call usually does not have much of general interest in it, but this month was an exception. There were several real news items:
  1. The Form 470 for 2007 is already available. For most applicants, this is of no interest, since it doesn't make sense to file before, say, September, but for applicants planning a construction project or with long-term contracts coming up for renewal, it's significant.
  2. Funding commitments for 2006-2007 are close. The SLD's board has approved release of the first "wave" of funding for 06-07, and it's now at the FCC for approval. Hopefully, the FCC will make a quick decision.
  3. The SLD's board has approved Priority Two funding down to the 81% level, and that matter is with the SLD. Apparently, the FCC is planning to lower the discount in steps, rather than going straight to 81%. I seem to remember the SLD estimating wrong a couple of years back, so maybe the FCC is being cautious.

There was also a long discussion of what is a valid contract. In particular, whether a contract has to have 2 dates to be valid for E-Rate purposes. The controversy stems from the Fifth Report & Order. In paragraph 48, when describing document retention requirements, the FCC said: "Both beneficiaries and service providers must retain executed contracts, signed and dated by both parties." The SLD has taken this to mean that all contracts must have a space at the bottom under each signature where the signatory can put the date. Apparently there has been some backpedaling on this, but according to some of the service providers on the call, the backpedaling has not reached all the PIA reviewers.

Let's hope the appeals that service providers have filed with the FCC are resolved quickly, so that this nonsense will end. The FCC has always deferred to state law on contracts, and no state law that I'm aware of requires each signatory to write out the date, as long as the date is on the contract.

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