On this page of the MiCTA Web Site both Schools and Libraries (E-Rate) and Health Care Connect Fund (HCF) eligible members will be provided current information on the two MiCTA National programs via links listed below. MiCTA has supported its Universal Service Fund (USF) E-Rate members nationally for many years by providing competitive “best practices” conducted RFP Telecommunications programs, on-going information, and training related to the USF E-Rate funding process which it expanded to its Healthcare members through its MiCTA National Healthcare Connect Fund Program beginning in 2014.
On July 11 and December 19, 2014 the FCC passed two Orders that created sweeping changes to the E-Rate Program. One Order added 1 billion dollars, budgeted per student, for the next 5 years (and possibly longer) to on premise network distribution equipment with a focus on “Fixed Wireless” (Wi-Fi) internet access. In July of 2015, USAC deployed the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC), an online Portal, directing that it would now be the tool for processing all E-Rate filings, processes and procedures. In July, 2019 the FCC released NPRM 19-58 in which the FCC proposed to make certain Category Two services permanent. With the adoption of the 2020 Eligible Services List on December 9, 2019, the Commission listed “managed broadband services, caching, and basic maintenance of internal connections as permanent and available to all eligible applicants.
Healthcare Connect Fund
After many filings with the FCC from 2000 to 2010 recommending a more comprehensive program, MiCTA was pleased with the Commission’s passage of Order 12-150 on December 12, 2012, creating the Healthcare Connect Fund under the existing RHC Telecommunications Program. This new “Broadband” driven program seeks to enhance the capability of Rural HCPs to deliver a higher level of quality health care through the funding of “Advanced Broadband” services and stimulation of “HCP Consortiums” allowing “Non-Rural” Hospitals to participate for the first time adding expertise to the diagnostic, treatment and administrative process of rural HCP’s.
Healthcare Connect Fund update
Due to over subscription of the 2017 Funding CAP the FCC increased in 2018 CAP to $573 million with an annual COL factor and “roll forward” of surplus funds to the next funding cycle. They also ordered the increase to apply to all 2017 approved applicants. The FCC announced that total demand for the 2019 funding years was $719.48 million once again exceeding the cap however roll-over funds were able to fill the gap so all eligible funding requests for 2019 will be fully funded. On June 30th the Wireline Competition Bureau rolled forward $197.98 million in unused funds from prior years to satisfy the funding year demand for FY2020. USAC has announced that the filing dates for 2021 will be from January 4th until April 1st, 2021.
In working closely with FCC and USAC officials, MiCTA is attempting to both create uniformity wherever possible in process and procedural rules between the USF E-Rate and HCF Programs, as well as technically advance their “Eligible Services.”