While the “Sixth Order” might sound like the name of a larping group, the Order we’re highlighting in this week’s 4cast is the Federal Communication Commission’s Sixth Report and Order (FCC 10-175) that was released on September 28. For libraries that participate in E-Rate, this Order created some buzz because it includes the ability to E-Rate “dark fiber” for the first time. But closer review reveals many other changes that may significantly change the upcoming E-Rate process for libraries. We strongly encourage libraries that E-Rate anything more than Plain Old Telephone Service—POTS—to register for one of the Form 470 workshops that OPLIN and the State Library are sponsoring at locations around the state on November 8. Meanwhile, we recommend the following reports on the Sixth Order:
- USAC’s Schools and Libraries News Brief regarding Technology Plans: “New requirements apply for FY2011 and beyond; no longer required for Priority One (Telecom and Internet Access); still required for Priority Two services (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections).”
- E-Rate Central News regarding the Form 470: “A new and simpler version of the Form 470 is expected to be available, probably in November. The current version of the Form 470 can be filed now. Once the new version is made available it must be used. The transition from the current version to the new version will be a flash cut (i.e., there will be no period in which both versions will be accepted).”
- Funds For Learning regarding dark fiber: “The biggest change to the Eligible Services List (ESL) for FY2011 is the addition of ‘Dark Fiber’ to the eligible services for Priority One. Dark fiber may now be purchased from any E-rate service provider (vendors need not be telecommunications carriers), and the applicant must light the fiber immediately. While installation and maintenance of dark fiber will be eligible, any subsequent special construction will not be eligible for E-rate discounts.”
- On-Tech E-Rate Musings regarding new restrictions on SPIN changes: “But most SPIN changes are not abuse. They are applicants who got a better deal on, say, long distance and want to switch providers. So now if a school district finds an opportunity to save money on their month-to-month phone service, they have to wait until they can file a Form 470, wait 28 days for no bids to arrive, then make the switch. For a lot of applicants, it won’t be worth the hassle, so they’ll forego the savings opportunity.”
The American Library Association welcomed one change resulting from the Sixth Order: the FCC will now inflation-adjust the amount of funds available annually for the E-Rate program.