April 13 is Deadline to Seek Competitive Bids for E-Rate Discounts


Thursday, April 13 is the deadline to seek competitive bids for products and services and receive E-rate discounts.

Schools and libraries requesting E-rate discounts must seek competitive bids using FCC Form 470, as required by Federal Communications Commission rules. The entity that will negotiate with potential service providers must complete Form 470. The form cannot be completed by a service provider who will participate in the competitive process as a bidder.

E-rate, also known as the Universal Service Schools and Libraries Program, provides discounts of up to 90 percent to help eligible schools and libraries in the United States obtain affordable telecommunications and internet access.

Last year, 23,069 entities submitted Form 470s seeking goods and services. As of March 31 of this year, only 17,188 applicants had posted Form 470s, according to Funds for Learning, a firm specializing in the federal E-rate funding program.

At the current pace, only 20,000 to 21,000 will appear to file their 470s, Funds for Learning said on its website. In addition to fewer applicants in general, there are fewer requesting support of voice/phone services. This may be a direct result of the Obama administration deciding to eventually phase out support for telephone services.

Also, multi-year agreements which previously went through the Form 470 competitive bidding process do not require new bids. And the new online system may be preventing some from completing their applications, said John Harrington, CEO of Funds for Learning.

Applicants who file Form 470s are required to seek bids and wait 28 days prior to awarding a contract. Applicants will then have until May 11 to submit their Form 471s.

For more information on filling out an FCC Form 470, visit this Universal Service Administrative Company site.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].