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. First by removing or phasing out previously funded “operational” services, including the funding for voice services, and secondly to enhance the resources for broadband connectivity to schools and libraries in the country which reflects President Obama’s “Connect Ed” proclamation. The Order also adds 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.
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
On March 1, 2014 the initial 462 “Funding Request” application process opened. One of the positive outcomes of this new program is the FCC form 462 (request for funding) and supporting documentation and the fact that today the Form 462 filing window This extended 462 filing process provides the opportunity for qualified applicants to file with a now established February 1st through May 31st filing window. The funding CAP was increased in 2018 to $573 million with an annual COL factor and “roll forward” of surplus funds to the next funding cycle.
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.”