FCC Releases Proposal for Comments on E-Rate Bidding Process – MeriTalk
Following its December meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it was approving a proposal seeking comment on improving the transparency and efficiency of the tendering process for the program. E-Rate. The FCC has now released the official notice of regulatory proposal, outlining the process and timelines for submitting comments on the E-Rate bidding process.
The E-Rate program provides financial support to help schools and libraries purchase affordable broadband services and Internet connections to connect students and library users to the Internet.
In the long proposal, the FCC presented the proposed draft rules on which it is seeking comments. Specifically, the FCC proposes to amend Part 54 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations in several ways:
- Provide a new, clarified explanation of the RFP requirements.
- Update the process by which service providers submit their response to a service request. Specifically, providers are no longer allowed to respond to emails from those looking for services and must instead submit their response through a secure website portal. It also provides a timeline for how long requesting entities should wait before committing to a service provider.
- Provides additional rules on how requesting entities and service providers can communicate during the tendering process. Specifically, limit all communications to the secure web portal and require that “all program bidders and potential service providers should have access to the same information and should be treated the same throughout the procurement process.”
- After selecting a service provider, requesting entities will now be required to submit documents in support of their certifications that they have carefully reviewed and selected the most cost-effective offer, with price being the main factor taken into account, including bid evaluation criteria, and documents specified by the FCC.
The FCC has announced that the comment period will last 60 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register. The comment response period will be 90 days after the FCC responds to the comments by posting in the Federal Register.