FCC Emergency Connectivity Fund 2021

The FCC's Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is a $7.17 billion program that will help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period. ECF will help provide relief to millions of students, school staff, and library patrons and will help close the Homework Gap for students who currently lack necessary Internet access or the devices they need to connect to classrooms.

For eligible schools and libraries, the ECF Program will cover reasonable costs of laptop and tablet computers; Wi-Fi hotspots; modems; routers; and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons.

Congress authorized the Emergency Connectivity Fund as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Funds Through the Emergency Connectivity Fund?

Schools, libraries, and consortia of schools and libraries (e.g., regional or statewide groups of schools or libraries that apply together) that are eligible for support under the FCC's E-Rate Program and Tribal libraries eligible for support under the Library Services and Technology Act may request and receive support through the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

What Equipment and Services Are Covered?

Eligible equipment includes Wi-Fi hotspots, modems (including air cards), routers, devices that combine a modem and router, and connected devices (laptop and tablet computers). Schools and libraries can also receive funding for commercially available broadband service that provides a fixed or mobile broadband connection for off-campus use by students, school staff or library patrons. In limited instances, a school or library that can demonstrate it has no available service options sufficient to support remote learning may seek funding for the construction of new networks to provide remote learning and the equipment needed for datacasting services.

How Can Schools and Libraries Apply for Funding?

The initial ECF Program application filing window will open on June 29 and close on August 13. During the application filing window, eligible schools, libraries, and consortia of eligible schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is the administrator of the ECF Program and will review applications. Interested schools and libraries can find more information and apply at emergencyconnectivityfund.org.

Review additional Frequently Asked Questions about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.

Tens of thousands of schools and libraries across the country already work with USAC to receive support for their on-campus broadband connectivity needs through the E-Rate Program.

October 19, 2021
 

The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program’s second application filing window closed at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program provides funding to schools and libraries for the reasonable costs of laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, routers, modems, and broadband Internet connections for use by students, school staff, and library patrons at locations that include locations other than a school or library. Funding is limited to students, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and broadband Internet services sufficient to engage in remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding Commitments for the First Application Filing Window

On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, the FCC announced the second wave of funding commitments totaling over $1.1 billion for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.  The approved commitments in this wave will fund 2,930 applications from 2,471 schools, 205 libraries, and 26 consortia.  To date, the FCC and USAC has committed over $2.3 billion in program funding to school and library applicants, and exceeded the stated goal of issuing funding commitment decision letters for 50 percent of all applications within 60 days of the closing of the first filing window.  The FCC and USAC have issued funding decisions for nearly 60 percent of the ECF applications.  The FCC and USAC will continue to expeditiously review applications and will be issuing additional funding commitment decisions on a rolling basis in the coming weeks. 

Request for Reimbursement Submission

Invoicing is now available through the ECF Portal. Service providers and applicants have access to the ECF Portal through their OnePortal dashboard and can view any funding requests that they are associated with through the ECF Portal.  Applicants and service providers, who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants, can also use the ECF Portal to submit requests for reimbursement (i.e., ECF FCC Forms 472 or 474) for the ECF Program.

E-learning modules that provide a walkthrough of the reimbursement forms including the ECF FCC Form 472 (BEAR) and ECF FCC Form 474 (SPI) have been posted in the Training section of the Emergency Connectivity Fund website.

Please note that applicants and service providers, who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants, will not be able to receive program funding until they have completed their SAM.gov registration. The SAM.gov banking information will be used for issuing payments to applicants and service providers.  If you will be submitting ECF requests for reimbursement (i.e., ECF FCC Form 472/ ECF FCC Form 474) and have not completed your SAM.gov registration, please do so now.  You may use this link to complete or renew your SAM.gov registration: https://usfcr.com/sam-registration/.

Service providers who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants must also complete the following steps.

File the FCC Form 498 (Service Providers Only)
Service providers must also file the FCC Form 498 in order to gain access to the ECF Portal to request reimbursement. Please note that the form will ask for banking information, however, the Commission will rely upon that which is stored in SAM.gov for disbursement purposes. After you complete this form, USAC will assign a unique nine digit number, known as a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) or 498 ID, and will set up a user name and password for you to access the  E-File system, a portal that allows you to update your FCC Form 498 online and set up permissions for other users in your company. Some of the contact information on the FCC Form 498 can be searched using the  SPIN Search tool, so it is helpful to keep your information current in case another program participant needs to contact you.

Access the ECF Portal
Once a service provider receives the 498 ID, they will automatically be granted access to the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC). If you are a new Service Provider, you must log in to EPC and sign the terms and conditions and wait 10 minutes to be granted access to the ECF Portal.

For additional information regarding the request for reimbursement process for applicants and service providers, including a walkthrough of the Forms 472 (BEAR) and 474 (SPI), please visit the Emergency Connectivity Fund website.

Appeals and Post-Commitment Requests

To find more information regarding how to file Appeals and Post-Commitment requests for applicants and service providers, please visit EmergencyConnectivityFund.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I change the service provider or the make or model of equipment after I’ve received a funding commitment decision letter (FCDL)?
After an FCDL has been issued, you will need to submit a request to change the service provider or the equipment and/or service through a Post-Commitment Request Form in the ECF Portal. USAC will review your request and notify you of its decision and/or whether more information is needed via email. Please visit USAC's Emergency Connectivity Fund website for additional information regarding the Post-Commitment Request process for  applicants and service providers .

Can I submit an invoice for a partial FRN and a partial Line Item within one FRN?
Yes, invoices for a partial FRN and also a partial Line Item within one FRN are acceptable. Please ensure that all requests for reimbursement are submitted by the Invoice Deadline Date listed on the FCDL, and ensure that requested amounts are within the approved amount on the FCDL.

For equipment and non-recurring services, what is the deadline for filing requests for reimbursement?
For equipment or other non-recurring services that have not been received at the time the application was submitted, applicants may use June 30, 2022 as the service end date and the invoice filing  deadline will be 60 days from the date of the funding commitment decision letter; a revised funding commitment decision letter approving a post-commitment change or a successful appeal of previously denied or reduced funding; or August 29, 2022 (i.e., 60 days after June 30, 2022), whichever is later. FCDLs include the Invoice Deadline Date.
 
Please see the FCC’s Public Notice DA 21-881 for more information about the deadline submitting invoices for non-recurring services and equipment purchases.
 
When will information about applications filed during the second application filing window be made available on Open Data?
Data from ECF funding applications submitted during the second application filing window (and late-filed applications moved to the second application filing window) will be made available soon on USAC’s Open Data platform.

Do I need a SAM.gov account if I am an annual E-Rate applicant?
SAM.gov registration is necessary for all applicants and service providers that are submitting requests for reimbursement (ECF FCC Forms 472/474) and receiving funds from the U.S. government. Because this is not currently required to participate in the E-Rate program, applicants, who are planning to submit requests for reimbursement (ECF FCC Form 472) and have not registered before should begin the process now. Service providers that agree to invoice on behalf of applicants also need to be registered with SAM.gov.  ECF applicants whose service providers will file ECF requests for reimbursement on their behalf (SPI invoicing) are not required to register in SAM.gov.

Can a school or library submit a reimbursement request after it has received the ECF-supported equipment but before it distributes the equipment to their students, school staff, or library patrons?
Yes. While the school or library must have received the equipment or services prior to submitting their request for reimbursement and must certify to this on the ECF FCC Form 472, they can seek reimbursement before distributing the equipment or services to students, school staff members, or library patrons with an unmet need. 

Applicants and service providers are also reminded of the need to certify on their reimbursement requests (ECF FCC Forms 472/474) that they are not willfully or knowingly requesting reimbursement for equipment or services that are not being used.

I'm still waiting to hear back about my application. Is there anything else I should be doing now?
Double check that you have completed all of the registrations necessary for applying for and/or receiving ECF support, including:

  • Obtaining a DUNS Number,
  • Obtaining an FCC Registration Number,
  • Obtaining a Billed Entity Number, and
  • Registering with SAM.gov.


Be sure that the information provided in these registrations match the information included on your application. For more information about these registrations, review the Getting Started webpage.

Also, please be sure to respond to all information requests in a timely manner.

I can access the ECF Portal, but can’t file any forms – what can I do?
Users that have view-only permissions will only be able to see forms created by others but cannot create forms themselves. The account administrator must upgrade your permissions in order to create forms. Please contact the account administrator for your organization.

Please review the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund FAQs, which it continues to update as new questions come in: www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs.

For More Information

More detail on the Program is available in the FCC Order that established the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. To learn more, please visit EmergencyConnectivityFund.org and sign up for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program emails . Visit the Training section of the Emergency Connectivity Fund website to view trainings, access E-learning modules and view recordings of past trainings and office hour sessions.


Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET or submit a case in the ECF Portal.

We appreciate your interest in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and look forward to your ongoing engagement as we work together to close the Homework Gap!
 

Need Help? Contact CSC!

Please contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) at (800) 234-9781 or create a case in the ECF Portal.

 

 

 

October 5, 2021
 


ECF Application Window Countdown: 8 Days to Window Close


The second Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application filing window is open for schools and libraries to request funding for connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.  The second application filing window opened on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 and will close on October 13, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET.  During this window, eligible schools and libraries, in addition to consortia of eligible schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 to meet the remote learning needs of students, school staff and library patrons with unmet needs.  The FCC’s announcement of the second application filing window is available on their website .

Please note that the FCC released a public notice directing USAC to review and process applications filed after the close of the ECF Program’s initial application filing window with those filed in the second application filing window.  Applicants who certified and submitted their ECF FCC Forms 471 after the close of the initial filing window on August 13, 2021 will not be required to resubmit their applications during the second application filing window, nor will they need to file a request for waiver of the initial 45-day application filing deadline with the Commission.

We appreciate your interest in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and look forward to your ongoing engagement as we work together to close the Homework Gap!

Request for Reimbursement Submission

Invoicing is now available through the ECF Portal. Service providers and applicants have access to the ECF Portal through their OnePortal dashboard and can view any funding requests that they are associated with through the ECF Portal.  Applicants and service providers, who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants, can also use the ECF Portal to submit requests for reimbursement (i.e., ECF FCC Forms 472 or 474) for the ECF Program.

Please note that applicants and service providers, who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants, will not be able to receive program funding until they have completed their SAM.gov registration. The SAM.gov banking information will be used for reimbursement.

Filing the FCC Form 498 (Service Providers Only)
Service providers must also file the FCC Form 498 in order to gain access to the ECF Portal to request reimbursement. Please note that the form will ask for banking information, however, USAC will rely upon that which is stored in SAM.gov for disbursement purposes. After you complete this form, USAC will assign a unique nine digit number, or 498 ID, and will set up a user name and password for you to access the  E-File system, a portal that allows you to update your FCC Form 498 online and set up permissions for other users in your company. Some of the contact information on the FCC Form 498 can be searched using the SPIN Search tool , so it is helpful to keep your information current in case another program participant needs to contact you.

Access the ECF Portal
Once you receive the 498 ID, you will automatically be granted access to the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC). If you are a new Service Provider, you must log in to the EPC and sign the terms and conditions and wait 10 minutes to be granted access to the ECF Portal.

For additional information regarding the request for reimbursement process for applicants and service providers, please visit the Emergency Connectivity Fund website.

Upcoming Webinars

USAC will host an Emergency Connectivity Fund Office Hours session today, Tuesday, October 5 at 3 p.m. ET, where applicants and service providers can ask questions and receive information about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. Register for this event and other upcoming office hours sessions at the below links:

  • Tuesday, October 5 @ 3 p.m. ET: Emergency Connectivity Fund Office Hours - Register
  • Tuesday, October 12 @ 4 p.m. ET: Tribal Applicant Office Hours - Register

Training

USAC offers E-learning modules, including a Program Overview video, an ECF FCC Form 471 Walkthrough video, and an overview video for Tribal Schools, Libraries and Consortia to help applicants successfully participate in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.
 
Visit the Training section of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program website to view trainings, access E-learning modules, register for office hour sessions, and view recordings of past trainings and office hours sessions.

Applicants and service providers can find more information regarding how to file Appeals by visiting EmergencyConnectivityFund.org. They can also find more information regarding the ECF FCC Form 471 here on the Program website.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I change the service provider or the make or model of equipment after I’ve received a funding commitment decision letter (FCDL)?
After a FCDL has been issued, you will need to submit a service provider or service substitution change through a Post-Commitment Request Form in the ECF Portal. USAC will review your request and notify you of its decision and/or whether more information is needed via email.

A service provider told us that 1:1 device initiatives are eligible for ECF Program support. Is this true? Can an applicant request funding for connected devices or Wi-Fi hotspots for all of its students as part of a 1:1 device initiative?
No. Applicants must certify, as part of their funding application, that they are only seeking support for eligible equipment and/or services provided to students and school staff who would otherwise lack access to connected devices or broadband services sufficient to engage in remote learning.  To the extent your service providers are telling you that 1:1 device initiatives may be funded by the ECF Program, please be advised that this is not an accurate representation of ECF rules.

How do I edit an incomplete application?
Under the “My Pending Tasks” tab of your dashboard, there will be a task to edit or resume the creation of your incomplete ECF FCC Form 471 application. Please note that if you select the application in "My Applications," you can view what you have done, but you cannot edit or continue your application.

For equipment and non-recurring services, what is the deadline for filing requests for reimbursement?
For equipment or other non-recurring services that have not been received when the applicant submits the application, applicants may use June 30, 2022 as the service end date and the invoicing deadline will be 60 days from the date of the funding commitment decision letter; a revised funding commitment decision letter approving a post-commitment change or a successful appeal of previously denied or reduced funding; or August 29, 2022 (i.e., 60 days after June 30, 2022), whichever is later.  FCDLs include the Invoice Deadline Date.
 
Please see the FCC’s Public Notice DA 21-881 for more information about the deadline for invoicing for non-recurring purchases.
 
If I filed an application after the first application filing window deadline on August 13, 2021, should I cancel my application and reapply in the second window?
No.  In accordance with FCC Public Notice DA 21-1182 , “while many schools and libraries timely submitted their applications during the initial application filing window, a number of applicants certified and submitted their ECF FCC Forms 471 after the August 13 deadline. We therefore direct USAC to review and process these late-filed applications during the second application filing window in accordance with Program rules and requirements.” 

Applicants that certified and submitted their ECF FCC Forms 471 after the close of the initial application
filing window on August 13, 2021 will not be required to resubmit their applications during the second
application filing window, nor will they need to file a request for waiver of the initial 45-day application filing deadline with the Commission.”

What if I filed a waiver request for my late-filed application with the FCC already?
You can file a request to withdraw the waiver request in the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) in WC Docket No. 21-93, referencing the original ECF FCC Form 471 application number.

When will information about applications filed during the second application filing window be made available on Open Data?
Data from ECF funding applications submitted during the second application filing window (and late-filed applications moved to the second application filing window) will be made available after the close of the filing window on October 13, 2021.

Do I need a SAM.gov account if I am an annual E-Rate applicant?
SAM.gov registration is necessary for all applicants and service providers that are submitting requests for reimbursement (ECF FCC Forms 472/474) and receiving funds from the U.S. government. Because this is not currently required to participate in the E-Rate program, applicants, who are planning to submit requests for reimbursement (ECF FCC Form 472) and have not registered before should begin the process now. Service providers that agree to invoice on behalf of applicants also need to be registered with SAM.gov.  ECF applicants whose service providers will file invoices for ECF reimbursement on their behalf (SPI invoicing) are not required to register in SAM.gov.

Can a school or library submit a reimbursement request after it has received the ECF-supported equipment but before it distributes the equipment to their students, school staff, or library patrons?
Yes. While the school or library must have received the equipment or services prior to submitting their request for reimbursement and must certify to this on the ECF FCC Form 472, they can seek reimbursement before distributing the equipment or services to students, school staff members, or library patrons with an unmet need. 

Applicants and service providers are also reminded of the need to certify on their reimbursement requests (ECF FCC Forms 472/474) that they are not willfully or knowingly requesting reimbursement for equipment or services that are not being used.

Are taxes included as part of the $400 maximum for connected devices?
No. Taxes are not included as part of the $400 cap for connected devices, but reasonable fees are included within the $400 capped amount.

I applied during the initial application filing window and I'm still waiting to hear back about my application. Is there anything else I should be doing now?
Double check that you have completed all of the registrations necessary for applying for and/or receiving ECF support, including:

  • Obtaining a DUNS Number,
  • Obtaining an FCC Registration Number,
  • Obtaining a Billed Entity Number, and
  • Registering with SAM.gov.


Be sure that the information provided in these registrations match the information included on your application. For more information about these registrations, review the Getting Started webpage.

Also, please be sure to respond to all information requests in a timely manner.

Will I have visibility in the ECF Portal for the committed version of my application?
Yes.  Applicants will be able to see the committed version of the funding requests submitted within an application.

I can access the ECF Portal, but can’t file any forms – what can I do?
Users that have view-only permissions will only be able to see forms created by others but cannot create forms themselves. The account administrator must upgrade your permissions in order to create forms. Please contact the account administrator for your organization.

Please review the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund FAQs, which it continues to update as new questions come in: www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs.
 

For More Information

More detail on the Program is available in the FCC Order that established the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. To learn more, please visit EmergencyConnectivityFund.org and sign up for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program emails .


Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund CSC with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET or submit a case in the ECF Portal.
 


 

September 21, 2021 
 


In just one week, the FCC will open a second Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application filing window for schools and libraries to request funding for connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.   The second application filing window will open next Tuesday, September 28, 2021 and close on October 13, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET. 

During this window, eligible schools and libraries, in addition to consortia of eligible schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 to meet the remote learning needs of students, school staff and library patrons with unmet needs.  The FCC’s announcement of the second application filing window is available on their website .

We appreciate your interest in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and look forward to your ongoing engagement as we work together to close the Homework Gap!

Cancellation of Incomplete ECF FCC Form 471 Applications

All existing incomplete ECF FCC Form 471 applications will be cancelled in advance of the opening of the second application filing window.  Please copy or download any information you wish to retain from an existing incomplete application by the end of the day on September 24, 2021. 

Invoice Submission

Service providers have access to the ECF Portal through their OnePortal dashboard and can view any funding requests that they are associated with through the ECF Portal.  

Applicants and service providers, who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants, can also use the ECF Portal to submit requests for reimbursement (i.e., ECF FCC Forms 472 or 474) for the ECF Program.  Invoicing will be available via the ECF Portal in the coming weeks.

Please note that applicants and service providers, who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants, will not be able to submit requests for reimbursement (ECF FCC Forms 472/474) and receive program funding until they have completed their SAM.gov registration.

For additional information regarding the reimbursement request process for applicants and service providers, please visit the Emergency Connectivity Fund website.

Upcoming Webinars

USAC will be hosting an ECF Overview and Invoicing Overview Webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, September 22 at 3:00 p.m. ET. During this session, USAC will give an overview of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, the application process, and the invoicing process.

USAC will also host an Emergency Connectivity Fund Office Hours session for Tribal Applicants on Thursday, September 23 at 4 p.m. ET, where applicants and service providers can ask questions and receive information about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. Register for these events at the below links:

  • Wednesday, September 22 @ 3 p.m. ET: ECF Overview and Invoicing Overview Webinar - Register
  • Thursday, September 23 @ 4 p.m. ET: Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Office Hours for Tribal Applicants - Register

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a school or library submit a reimbursement request after it has received the ECF-supported equipment but before it distributes the equipment to their students, school staff, or library patrons?
Yes. While the school or library must have received the equipment or services prior to submitting their request for reimbursement and must certify to this on the ECF FCC Form 472, they can seek reimbursement before distributing the equipment or services to students, school staff members, or library patrons with an unmet need. 

Applicants and service providers are also reminded of the need to certify on their reimbursement requests (ECF FCC Forms 472/474) that they are not willfully or knowingly requesting reimbursement for equipment or services that are not being used.

Are taxes included as part of the $400 maximum for connected devices?
No. Taxes are not included as part of the $400 cap for connected devices, but reasonable fees will be included within the $400 amount.

After submitting an application during the first application filing window, a school or library realizes they need additional equipment and services to meet their students’, school staff’s, or library patrons’ unmet needs.  Can the school or library submit another application during the second window to address these unmet needs?
Yes.  If a school or library determines there is additional need for eligible equipment and/or services, they may submit another application during the second application filing window to address these unmet needs. 

However, applicants should not seek support for equipment and services already requested during the first application filing window.  Applicants requesting support for similar services or equipment should clearly explain the differences between their requests.  Submitting duplicate requests may lead to additional delay in the review of the applications and duplicate funding requests will be denied.

How will funding requests be prioritized?
In the event that demand exceeds available funding during any ECF application filing window, funding requests will be prioritized based on an applicant’s E-Rate discount rate for category one services, adjusted to provide a five percent increase for rural schools and libraries.  This means that those schools and libraries entitled to a higher E-Rate discount will receive funding ahead of those entitled to a lower discount rate, as reflected in the discount matrix provided in section 54.1708(c) of the ECF rules.

If a school or library submitted an application during the first application filing window and has not heard from USAC on their funding request by the time the second application filing window opens (e.g., September 28, 2021), should they re-apply for funding in the second window?
No.  Applicants should not re-file applications that were already submitted in the first application filing window.

Submitting duplicate requests may lead to additional delay in the review of applications and duplicate funding requests will be denied.

I applied during the initial application filing window and I'm still waiting to hear back about my application.  Is there anything else I should be doing now?
Double check that you have completed all of the registrations necessary for applying for and/or receiving ECF support, including:

  • Obtaining a DUNS Number,
  • Obtaining an FCC Registration Number,
  • Obtaining a Billed Entity Number, and
  • Registering with SAM.gov.

Be sure that the information provided in these registrations match the information included on your application. For more information about these registrations, review the our Getting Started webpage.

If I have the credentials to access the ECF Portal, can I begin filling out my application for the second application filing window before the window opens?
No. Applicants should not begin completing an ECF FCC Form 471 in the ECF Portal for the second application filing window until the window opens on September 28, 2021.

In the meantime, applicants can learn more about steps that can be taken now to prepare for the second application filing window by reviewing the FCC’s Getting Started Guide

Additionally, to learn more about the application process, review the FCC’s How to Apply Guide, or preview the application by visiting USAC’s ECF FCC Form 471 application webpage or watching USAC’s ECF FCC Form 471 walkthrough.

Will I have visibility in the ECF Portal for the committed version of my application?
Yes.  Applicants will be able to see the committed version of the funding requests submitted within an application.

Will I receive a notification when the PIA reviewer contacts me about my application?
All full rights users in the ECF Portal will receive an email notification when the PIA reviewer sends an external communication relating to the entity’s application.

I can access the ECF Portal, but can’t file any forms – what can I do?
Users that have view-only permissions will only be able to see forms created by others but cannot create forms themselves. The account administrator must upgrade your permissions in order to create forms. Please contact the account administrator for your organization.

Please review the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund FAQs, which it continues to update as new questions come in: www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs.
 

For More Information

More detail on the Program is available in the FCC Order that established the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. To learn more, please visit EmergencyConnectivityFund.org and sign up for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program emails

Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund CSC with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET or submit a case in the ECF Portal.
 

Need Help? Contact CSC!

Please contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) at (800) 234-9781 or create a case in the ECF Portal.

 

 

August 31, 2021


In view of outstanding demand and the recent spike in coronavirus cases, the FCC announced in a press release last week that they will open a second application filing window for schools and libraries to request funding for connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.  The second application filing window will open on September 28 and close on October 13.  Eligible schools and libraries will be able to apply for financial support for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 for students, school staff and library patrons with unmet needs.

The FCC also announced that requests for $5.137 billion in funding to support 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections were received during the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program’s initial application filing window. The window, which closed August 13, 2021, attracted applicants from all 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia – including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities seeking funding for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. Additional information about the demand can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/ecf-state-demand/.

We appreciate your interest in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and look forward to your ongoing engagement as we work together to close the Homework Gap!


Invoice Submission

Service providers have access to the ECF Portal through their OnePortal dashboard. They are able to see any funding requests that they are associated with through the ECF Portal. Applicants and service providers who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants can also use the ECF Portal to submit requests for reimbursement (i.e., ECF FCC Forms 472 or 474) for the ECF Program.

For information regarding reimbursement requests for applicants and service providers please visit the Emergency Connectivity Fund website.
 

Need Help?

Applicants and service providers can contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. or submit a case in the ECF Portal.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

I can access the ECF Portal, but can’t file any forms – what can I do?
Users that have view-only permissions will only be able to see forms created by others but cannot create forms themselves. The account administrator must upgrade your permissions in order to create forms. Please contact the account administrator for your organization.

I am a service provider, have a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN), and need access to the ECF Portal. How do I get access to the ECF Portal?
Service providers with access to the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) portal now have access to the ECF Portal. Log in to your account by visiting USAC.org and selecting the blue “Sign In” button. Once you have entered your credentials and completed the multifactor authentication, you will be taken to the OnePortal and should see a link for the ECF Portal.

I am a service provider and agreed to invoice USAC for equipment or services for ECF support on behalf of the applicant. Where do I submit the invoices?
Invoicing will be available via the ECF Portal in the coming weeks. To seek reimbursement for each funding request, USAC must have issued an approved funding commitment decision letter to the applicant and service provider.

How long will it take to hear back about my application?
Currently, we do not have an exact timeline on the application review. Once a decision has been made, you will receive an email with the final decision. Please keep in mind you may still receive an Information Request email regarding an application, if further information is needed. The FCC has set a goal to process 50% of all workable applications filed within 60 days after the close of the filing window. In general, ECF FCC Forms 471 are reviewed as they are received, but many other factors can cause some reviews to take longer than expected. Please be assured that we are working on the review of all applications as expeditiously as possible.

Will I have visibility in the ECF portal for the committed version of my application?
Yes.  Applicants will be able to see the committed version of the funding requests submitted within an application.

Do approved applicants that receive recurring monthly services need to submit invoices within 60 days of each monthly invoice?
No. For recurring services that are invoiced on a monthly or periodic basis, approved applicants may invoice within 60 days of the last date of service (i.e., they must invoice at least once by August 29, 2022 for services received through June 30, 2022).

If the service provider is invoicing on behalf of the applicant, does it need a SPIN for ECF?
Yes. To obtain a SPIN, service providers must complete an FCC Form 498.  For additional information about filing an FCC Form 498, please review the Service Provider’s Reimbursement Process page.

Can applicants change the make or model of their equipment after they file their applications?
Yes, applicants may make service and equipment substitutions during PIA review or after receiving a funding commitment.

Please review the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund FAQs, which it continues to update as new questions come in: www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs .
 

For More Information

More detail on the Program is available in the FCC Order that established the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. To learn more, please visit EmergencyConnectivityFund.org and sign up for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program emails .
 


Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund CSC with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
 

Need Help? Contact CSC!

Please contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) at (800) 234-9781 or create a case in the ECF Portal.

 

 

August 25, 2021

In view of outstanding demand and the recent spike in coronavirus cases, the FCC announced in a press release today that they will open a second application filing window for schools and libraries to request funding from the roughly $2 billion in program funds remaining for connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.  The second application filing window will open on September 28 and run until October 13.  Eligible schools and libraries will be able to apply for financial support for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 for students, school staff and library patrons with unmet needs.

Today the FCC also announced that requests for $5.137 billion in funding to support 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections were received during the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program’s initial application filing window. The window, which closed August 13, 2021, attracted applicants from all 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia – including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities seeking funding for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.

We appreciate your interest in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and look forward to your ongoing engagement as we work together to close the Homework Gap!

Coming Soon

Service providers will have access to the ECF Portal through their OnePortal dashboard. They will be able to see any funding requests that they are associated with through the ECF Portal. Applicants and service providers who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants will also use the ECF Portal to submit requests for reimbursement (i.e., FCC Forms 472 or 474) for the ECF Program.

Need Help?

Applicants and service providers can contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. or submit a case in the ECF Portal.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to hear back about my application?
Currently, we do not have an exact timeline on the application review. Once a decision has been made, you will receive an email with the final decision. Please keep in mind you may still receive an Information Request email regarding an application, if further information is needed. The FCC has set a goal to process 50% of all workable applications filed within 60 days after the close of the filing window. In general, ECF FCC Forms 471 are reviewed as they are received, but many other factors can cause some reviews to take longer than expected. Please be assured that we are working on the review of all applications as expeditiously as possible.

Will I have visibility in the ECF portal for the committed version of my application?
Yes – applicants will be able to see the committed version of the funding requests submitted within an application.

I was unable to certify my application prior to the deadline on August 13, 2021, but I still want to get reimbursed – is there anything I can do?
File and certify the ECF FCC Form 471 as soon as possible, if you have not already. You will receive a notification that your form was filed outside of the filing window.

ECF FCC Forms 471 certified after the close of the application filing window will be put in an out-of-window status and will not be reviewed by USAC. The applicant must request – and FCC must grant – a waiver of the application filing window deadline for USAC to be able to move these applications to an in-window filing status.

Note that USAC cannot approve an appeal or waiver request that asks for a waiver of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program rules—you must file a request for waiver with the FCC.

Detailed instructions on how to request a waiver from the FCC can be found at emergencyconnectivityfund.org/submit-window-waiver-requests.

You must file your waiver within 30 days of the date when USAC issued the out-of-window status notification. The FCC will consider electronic appeals as filed on a business day if they are received before 11:59 p.m. ET. If you have questions or comments about using the Commission’s electronic comment filing system (ECFS), please contact the FCC directly at (202) 418-0193.

Will application and pricing information be made available through USAC’s Open Data platform?
Yes. The Order provides that Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application and pricing data will be made available through Open Data within 160 days after the initial application filing window closes and we are making every effort to make this data available earlier, if possible.

If the service provider is invoicing on behalf of the applicant, does it need a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) for ECF?
Yes.

Can applicants change the make or model of their equipment after they file their applications?
Yes, applicants may make service and equipment substitutions after receiving a funding commitment.

Does an applicant using SPI invoicing need to register with SAM.gov?
No, applicants who are only using service providers who will file invoices on their behalf for ECF reimbursement (SPI invoicing) are not required to register in SAM.gov.

Please review the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund FAQs, which it continues to update as new questions come in: www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs .

For More Information

More detail on the Program is available in the FCC Order that established the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. To learn more, please visit EmergencyConnectivityFund.org and sign up for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program emails .

Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund CSC with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
 

 

Need Help? Contact CSC!

Please contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) at (800) 234-9781 or create a case in the ECF Portal.

 

 

 

August 11, 2021

ECF Application Window Countdown: 2 Days To Window Close

The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application filing window will be open for 2 more days!  Eligible schools and libraries must apply by this Friday, August 13, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Do not wait until the last day to submit your application. During the current application filing window, eligible schools and libraries, in addition to consortia of schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022 to meet the remote learning needs of students, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and broadband connections sufficient to engage in remote learning.

Interested schools and libraries can find more information and apply for support at emergencyconnectivityfund.org

Have any last-minute questions? Please see below for more information on this week’s extended ECF Customer Support Center hours and the Office Hours Sessions that are being held TODAY!

Today's Focus: Unmet Needs

Question of the Day

Can an applicant request funding for connected devices or Wi-Fi hotspots for all of its students as part of a 1:1 device initiative?
No. Applicants must certify, as part of their funding application, that they are only seeking support for eligible equipment and/or services provided to students and school staff who would otherwise lack access to connected devices or broadband services sufficient to engage in remote learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should applicants determine their unmet needs?
The FCC has not prescribed a specific way for applicants to go about estimating what they will need to address unmet needs.

In the case of schools, applicants should provide their best estimates about the number of students who did not have access to adequate connected devices, broadband connections, or both when the pandemic began; the number of students who do not currently have adequate access; and how the applicant expects those numbers to change with the requested ECF Program support.

While the FCC has not dictated specific data collection requirements for estimating the unmet need for students, schools must describe how and when they collected the information that they use for the estimates provided in their responses on the application.

There is no such data collection requirement for libraries to estimate the unmet need for library patrons. However, both schools and libraries must certify that they are seeking support for eligible equipment and/or services for students, school staff, and/or library patrons that would otherwise lack adequate access.

We encourage applicants to make their best efforts to estimate what they will need and apply for ECF funding in a timely manner, just as they do for the E-Rate Program.

If students have devices at home, but they are inadequate for the students to participate in remote learning (e.g., due to age or not meeting minimum technical requirements), can schools still buy a device for them?
During the initial application filing window, applicants may only seek support for eligible equipment and/or services for students that lack access to connected devices and broadband connections sufficient to engage in remote learning during the upcoming school year.?We leave it up to schools to determine whether a student's existing device is sufficient to engage in remote learning.?Applicants must also certify on their funding application that they are only seeking support "for eligible equipment and/or services provided to students and school staff who would otherwise lack connected devices and/or broadband services sufficient to engage in remote learning." Schools should document how they determined that the existing devices were inadequate.

If a district-owned connected device was assigned to a student, but the device is no longer sufficient to engage in remote learning (for example, a three-year old laptop), can the district request ECF support for a new connected device?
If a device is no longer sufficient for a student to engage in remote learning, ECF support can be used to provide a new device. Applicants must certify on their funding application that they are only seeking support "for eligible equipment and/or services provided to students and school staff who would otherwise lack connected devices and/or broadband services sufficient to engage in remote learning."  Schools should document how they determined that the existing devices were inadequate.

Does a school need to use a survey to demonstrate unmet need on their application?
No. Schools are required to provide best estimates of the unmet need at the time they submit their application and may use whatever method they deem appropriate for estimating unmet need.? The estimates could be based on the results of a survey, but a survey is not required.

It's summer vacation, and I don't know exactly how many students lack broadband access at home. What should I do?
At the application stage, schools just need best estimates of their unmet need to request funding.

When it is time to invoice, schools may only request ECF reimbursement for services that fulfilled an actual unmet need of a student or staff member, consistent with the application certification. Schools may also be asked to provide documentation to support actual costs of services to those students and staff after funds have been committed.

Could a school district use the district's National School Lunch Program (NSLP) percentage, NTIA's "Indicators of Broadband Need Map" or other publicly available data to provide best estimates on its ECF FCC Form 471 application, and then collect a certification from students or staff before seeking reimbursement for the device or service?
Yes. Again, only best estimates of the unmet need are required for schools at the time they submit their application. It is up to the school to determine how to estimate need. Schools may also be asked to provide documentation to support actual costs of assigned equipment and/or services after funds have been committed. A student or staff certification collected after the application but before receiving service/equipment may be an appropriate way to ensure the school is only seeking reimbursement for those students and staff with unmet need.

What will school applicants need related to unmet need at the different stages of the ECF Program process (e.g., application, invoicing, or audits)?
At the application stage, schools just need best estimates of their unmet need. They may use whatever method they deem appropriate for estimating unmet need and are not required to provide any documentation to support these estimates when they submit their ECF FCC Form 471 application. Here is a link to see the unmet need questions for schools on the application:?www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/ecf-fcc-form-471/entity-information.

When schools file for reimbursement, they should only request reimbursement for eligible equipment and services provided to students or staff who would otherwise lack broadband services and/or devices sufficient to engage in remote learning. For example, if a school requested ECF funding to support the broadband services at the homes of 100 students based on an estimate of those that lack services, but it determines during the school year that only 90 students have unmet need, the school should only seek reimbursement for the services provided to those 90 students. Schools may also be asked to provide documentation to support actual costs of assigned equipment and/or services after funds have been committed.

All applicants should also maintain documentation supporting their compliance with ECF Program rules.
 
What will library applicants need related to unmet need at the different stages of the ECF Program process (e.g., application, invoicing, or audits)?
At the application stage, libraries may request funding for eligible equipment and services. Like schools, libraries must certify that they are only seeking support to address unmet need, but are not required to provide best estimates of unmet needs on their ECF FCC Form 471 applications.

To ensure libraries are providing eligible equipment and services to patrons with unmet needs, ECF rules require libraries to, on a going forward basis, provide patrons with a copy of an eligible use policy, which explains that the equipment or service is intended for library patrons who do not otherwise have access to equipment or services sufficient to meet the patrons' educational needs, and patrons must sign and return a statement saying they would otherwise lack such access. Documentation supporting these certification statements may be requested to show compliance with ECF rules.

All applicants should also maintain documentation supporting their compliance with ECF Program rules. 

The FCC continues to update its FAQs as new questions come in. Additional FAQs are available at: www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs

Extended CSC Hours

Applicants and service providers can contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Extended hours will be available during the following days this week:

  • Wednesday, August 11, 2021: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET
  • Thursday, August 12, 2021: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET
  • Friday, August 13, 2021: 8 a.m. to 11:59:59 p.m. ET (last day of application filing window) 

Need Help?

There are still two opportunities for applicants and service providers to ask questions and get information about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application process. Register for this week’s office hour sessions being held TODAY.

  • Wednesday, August 11 @ 3 p.m. ET: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview Office Hours – Register
  • Wednesday, August 11 @ 4 p.m. ET: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview Office Hours for Tribal Applicants - Register
     

For More Information

More detail on the Program is available in the FCC Order that established the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. To learn more, please visit EmergencyConnectivityFund.org and sign up for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program emails. The FCC’s announcement of the application filing window is available on their website.

Need Help? Contact CSC!

Please contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) at (800) 234-9781 or create a case in the ECF Portal.

 

 

August 3, 2021

ECF Application Window Countdown: 10 Days to Window Close

Apply Now for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Support!

The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application filing window will be open for 10 more days!  Eligible schools and libraries must apply by next Friday, August 13, 2021. During the current application filing window, eligible schools and libraries, in addition to consortia of schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022 to meet the remote learning needs of students, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and broadband connections sufficient to engage in remote learning.

Interested schools and libraries can find more information and apply for support at emergencyconnectivityfund.org

Upcoming FCC webinar and resources
The FCC will host a webinar TODAY at 2 p.m. ET on fcc.gov/live to highlight frequently asked questions and answer questions submitted by potential applicants. No registration is required for this event. The webinar will be recorded and be available on the FCC’s website for viewing after the event.

The FCC added newly updated resources, including an application process overview and a program flyer.  You may also review additional Frequently Asked Questions about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program here.

ECF Portal Training Site
If you have access to the EPC training environment, USAC will be providing you with the same access to the new Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Portal training site. This site will allow you to practice filling out the ECF FCC Form 471. We will be sending you an email with credentials that have been assigned to you and a password for the ECF Portal training site.

If you do not have an existing account or did not get an email but have an existing account, please reach out to the Customer Support Center (CSC) with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

Certification Update
Consistent with the clarification provided by the FCC in a July 22 Public Notice, USAC is in the process of updating the certification language in cases where an applicant has not yet ordered equipment or services. The revised language will read: “[t]he applicant or the relevant student, school staff member, or library patron has received, or the applicant has ordered or will order, the equipment and services for which funding is sought.” Applicants need not delay submitting their applications pending updated language if they have not yet ordered equipment or services. They should just make note in the FRN narrative that no order has been placed, but will be, consistent with the provisions in the July 22 Public Notice.

Need Help?
USAC will continue to host weekly office hours where applicants and service providers can ask questions and get information about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application process. Register for this week’s office hours session being held this Wednesday, August 4, 2021 and office hours session for tribal applicants being held this Tuesday, August 3, 2021.

  • Tuesday, August 3 @ 4 p.m. ET: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview Office Hours for Tribal Applicants - Register
  • Wednesday, August 4 @ 3 p.m. ET: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview Office Hours – Register

Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

Training
USAC offers E-learning modules, including a Program Overview video, an ECF FCC Form 471 Walkthrough video, and an overview video for Tribal Schools, Libraries and Consortia to help applicants successfully participate in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.

Visit the Training section of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program website to view trainings, access E-learning modules, register for office hour sessions, and view recordings of past trainings and office hours sessions.

Applicants can also find more information regarding the ECF FCC Form 471 here on the Program website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a SAM.gov account if I am an annual E-Rate applicant?
SAM.gov registration is necessary for all applicants and service providers that are submitting requests for reimbursement (FCC Forms 472/474) and receiving funds from the U.S. government. Because this is not currently required to participate in the E-Rate program, applicants who are planning to submit requests for reimbursement (FCC Form 472) and have not registered before should begin the process now. Service providers that agree to invoice on behalf of applicants also need to be registered with SAM.gov. ECF applicants whose service providers will file invoices for ECF reimbursement on their behalf (SPI invoicing) are not required to register in SAM.gov.

How should applicants request funding for equipment associated with a service request (e.g., a $5 monthly fee for a modem or Wi-Fi hotspot connected to a broadband service)?
Applicants should work with their service providers to separate the costs of the equipment from the services and submit them on separate funding requests.

Do applicants need to have contracts in advance of submitting an application for ECF support?
No, contracts are not required under the ECF Program rules, but applicants are required to comply with state, local, or Tribal procurement laws or regulations. Applicants also do not need to have already placed an order for eligible equipment or services prior to filing an application.

Please see DA 21-881  for more information about the application certification language in 47 CFR 54.1710(a)(1)(x).

When I request funding for equipment, what do I use as the service end date in the application?
For equipment or other non-recurring services that have not been received when the applicant submits the application, applicants may use June 30, 2022 as the service end date.
Please see DA 21-881 for more information about the deadline for invoicing for these non-recurring purchases.

It's summer vacation, and I don't know exactly how many students lack broadband access at home. What should I do?
At the application stage, schools just need best estimates of their unmet need to request funding.

When it is time to invoice, schools may only request ECF reimbursement for services that fulfilled an actual unmet need of a student or staff member, consistent with the application certification. Schools may also be asked to provide documentation to support actual costs of services to those students and staff after funds have been committed.

Could a school district use the district's National School Lunch Program (NSLP) percentage, NTIA's "Indicators of Broadband Need Map " or other publicly available data to provide best estimates on its ECF FCC Form 471 application, and then collect a certification from students or staff before seeking reimbursement for the device or service?
Again, only best estimates of the unmet need are required for schools at the time they submit their application. It is up to the school to determine how to estimate need. Schools may also be asked to provide documentation to support actual costs of assigned equipment and/or services after funds have been committed. A student or staff certification collected after the application but before receiving service/equipment may be an appropriate way to ensure the school is only seeking reimbursement for those students and staff with unmet need.

What will school applicants need related to unmet need at the different stages of the ECF Program process (e.g., application, invoicing, or audits)?
At the application stage, schools just need best estimates of their unmet need. They may use whatever method they deem appropriate for estimating unmet need and are not required to provide any documentation to support these estimates when they submit their ECF FCC Form 471 application. Here is a link to see the unmet need questions for schools on the application:? www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org/ecf-fcc-form-471/entity-information.

When schools file for reimbursement, they should only request reimbursement for eligible equipment and services provided to students or staff who would otherwise lack broadband services and/or devices sufficient to engage in remote learning. For example, if a school requested ECF funding to support the broadband services at the homes of 100 students based on an estimate of those that lack services, but it determines during the school year that only 90 students have unmet need, the school should only seek reimbursement for the services provided to those 90 students. Schools may also be asked to provide documentation to support actual costs of assigned equipment and/or services after funds have been committed.

All applicants should also maintain documentation supporting their compliance with ECF Program rules.

What will library applicants need related to unmet need at the different stages of the ECF Program process (e.g., application, invoicing, or audits)?
At the application stage, libraries may request funding for eligible equipment and services. Like schools, libraries must certify that they are only seeking support to address unmet need, but are not required to provide best estimates of unmet needs on their ECF FCC Form 471 applications.

To ensure libraries are providing eligible equipment and services to patrons with unmet needs, ECF rules require libraries to, on a going forward basis, provide patrons with a copy of an eligible use policy, which explains that the equipment or service is intended for library patrons who do not otherwise have access to equipment or services sufficient to meet the patrons' educational needs, and patrons must sign and return a statement saying they would otherwise lack such access. Documentation supporting these certification statements may be requested to show compliance with ECF rules.

All applicants should also maintain documentation supporting their compliance with ECF Program rules.

The FCC continues to update its FAQs as new questions come in. Additional FAQs are available at: www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs .

Need Help? Contact CSC!

Please contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) at (800) 234-9781 or create a case in the ECF Portal. 

 

 

 

 

July 27, 2021

ECF Application Window Countdown: 17 Days to Window Close

 

The Clock is Ticking – Apply Now for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Support!

The new school year is just around the corner, will students in your community have the broadband access and devices they need to succeed?

The Federal Communications Commission has a new program to help with unmet needs. The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program covers 100% of the reasonable costs of laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons.

Eligible schools and libraries must apply by August 13. During the current application filing window, eligible schools and libraries, in addition to consortia of schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

Interested schools and libraries can find more information and apply for support at emergencyconnectivityfund.org. The FCC will hold a webinar on August 3 at 2 p.m. ET to highlight frequently asked questions and answer questions submitted by potential applicants. Newly updated resources include an application process overview and a program flyer. You may also review additional Frequently Asked Questions about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program here or contact the Customer Support Center hosted by the Universal Service Administrative Company, the program administrator, at (800) 234-9781, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

Congress authorized the Emergency Connectivity Fund as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, the FCC will award $7.17 billion to help schools and libraries purchase connected devices and broadband internet connections to facilitate off-campus remote learning. The initial application window will close on August 13 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Emergency Connectivity Fund Service Delivery Date
On July 22, 2021, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice (DA 21-881), which set June 30, 2022 as the service delivery date for equipment and other non-recurring services funding requests filed during the initial application filing window if the equipment or services have not been received at the time the funding request is made.  As such, applicants may use June 30, 2022, as the “service end date” in the funding request where indicated in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application portal, and the invoicing deadline for these non-recurring services and equipment will be 60 days from the date of the funding commitment decision letter; a revised funding commitment decision letter approving a post-commitment change or a successful appeal of previously denied or reduced funding; or August 29, 2022 (i.e., 60 days after June 30, 2022), whichever is later.

The Public Notice also modified the certification language for section 54.1710(a)(1)(x) of the Commission’s rules to clarify that applicants may request funding for eligible equipment and services that have not yet been ordered for the upcoming school year (i.e., July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022).  

Unmet Needs
The FCC has not prescribed a specific way for applicants to go about estimating what they will need to address unmet needs. In the case of schools, applicants should provide their best estimates about the number of students who did not have access to adequate connected devices, broadband connections, or both when the pandemic began; the number of students who do not currently have adequate access; and how the applicant expects those numbers to change with the requested Emergency Connectivity Fund Program support.

While the FCC has not dictated specific data collection requirements for estimating the unmet need for students, schools must describe how and when they collected the information that they use for the estimates provided in their responses.

There is no such data collection requirement for libraries to estimate the unmet need for library patrons. However, both schools and libraries must certify that they are seeking support for eligible equipment and/or services for students, school staff, and/or library patrons that would otherwise lack adequate access.

We encourage applicants to make their best efforts to estimate what they will need and apply for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program funding in a timely manner, just as they do for the E-rate program. Applicants may seek funding for only one fixed broadband connection per location and only one connected device and/or Wi-Fi hotspot per student, school staff member or library patron.

For more information regarding Unmet Needs please visit the FCC FAQs. Additionally, see the Frequently Asked Questions below for some of the most recently added FAQs on Unmet Needs.

Need Help?
USAC will continue to host weekly office hours where applicants and service providers can ask questions and get information about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application process. Register for this week’s office hours session being held this Wednesday, July 28, 2021.
 

  • Wednesday, July 28 @ 3 p.m. ET: Emergency Connectivity Fund Overview Office Hours – Register

Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

Training
USAC offers E-learning modules, including a Program Overview video and an Emergency Connectivity Fund FCC Form 471 Walkthrough video, to help applicants successfully participate in the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.

Visit the Training section of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program website to view trainings, access E-learning modules, register for office hour sessions, and view recordings of past trainings and office hours sessions.
Applicants can also find more information regarding the ECF FCC Form 471 here on the Program website.

Frequently Asked Questions
Are libraries limited to lending Emergency Connectivity Fund-funded equipment and services to K-12 students?
No, there is no restriction that library-owned devices be loaned to K-12 students

If a school reopens, and students and school staff are attending school in person, is off-campus equipment or service for that student or teacher still eligible for Emergency Connectivity Fund support?
Yes. Such equipment and services are eligible if needed to meet the remote learning needs of students, such as homework, or school staff who would otherwise lack sufficient access to connected devices and/or a broadband internet access connection while off campus.

Are applicants required to conduct competitive bidding, like they do for the E-Rate program?
No.  There are no Commission-mandated competitive bidding requirements for the Emergency Connectivity Fund, but schools and libraries are required to certify that they have complied with state, local and Tribal procurement requirements. 

Does an applicant using SPI invoicing need to register with SAM.gov?
No, applicants in the ECF Program whose service providers will file invoices on their behalf for Emergency Connectivity Fund reimbursement (SPI invoicing) are not required to register in SAM.gov.

Can a school who has received ESSER or CARES Act funds to buy connected devices/hotspot devices apply for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program funding?
It depends.  While Emergency Connectivity Fund rules do not permit applicants to receive duplicative support for equipment or services that have already been reimbursed through other federal or state programs, an applicant may seek funding for any portion of the costs of the equipment or services that were not covered.  They may also seek support to address ongoing unmet needs that are not covered through other funding sources.

Does a school need to use a survey to demonstrate unmet need on their application?
No.  Schools are required to provide best estimates of the unmet need at the time they submit their application and may use whatever method they deem appropriate for estimating unmet need.  The estimates could be based on the results of a survey, but a survey is not required. 

If a district-owned connected device was assigned to a student, but the device is no longer sufficient to engage in remote learning (for example, a three-year old laptop), can the district request Emergency Connectivity Fund support for a new connected device?
Yes. If a device is no longer sufficient for a student to engage in remote learning, Emergency Connectivity Fund support can be used to provide a new device. Applicants must certify on their funding application that they are only seeking support “for eligible equipment and/or services provided to students and school staff who would otherwise lack connected devices and/or broadband services sufficient to engage in remote learning.”

Can an applicant request funding for connected devices or Wi-Fi hotspots for all of its students as part of a 1:1 device initiative?
No. Applicants must certify, as part of their funding application, that they are only seeking support for eligible equipment and/or services provided to students and school staff who would otherwise lack access to connected devices or broadband services sufficient to engage in remote learning.

If students have devices at home, but they are inadequate for the students to participate in remote learning (e.g., due to age or not meeting minimum technical requirements), can schools still buy a device for them?
During the initial application filing window, applicants may only seek support for eligible equipment and/or services for students that lack access to connected devices and broadband connections sufficient to engage in remote learning during the upcoming school year.  We leave it up to schools to determine whether a student’s existing device is sufficient to engage in remote learning.  Applicants must also certify on their funding application that they are only seeking support “for eligible equipment and/or services provided to students and school staff who would otherwise lack connected devices and/or broadband services sufficient to engage in remote learning.” Schools should document how they determined that the existing devices were inadequate.

The FCC continues to update its FAQs as new questions come in. Additional FAQs are available at www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund-faqs.


Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

 

Need Help? Contact CSC!

Please contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) at (800) 234-9781 or create a case in the ECF Portal.