Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47, Part 54, Subpart F
§ 54.500 Terms and definitions.
Terms used in this subpart have the following meanings:
(a) Elementary school. An "elementary school" is a non-profit institutional day or residential school that provides elementary education, as determined under state law.
(b) Internal connections. A given service is eligible for support as a component of the institution's internal connections only if it is necessary to transport information to individual classrooms. Thus, internal connections includes items such as routers, hubs, network file servers, and wireless LANs and their installation and basic maintenance because all are needed to switch and route messages within a school or library.
(c) Library. A "library" includes:
(1) A public library;
(2) A public elementary school or secondary school library;
(3) An academic library;
(4) A research library, which for the purposes of this definition means a library that:
(i) Makes publicly available library services and materials suitable for scholarly research and not otherwise available to the public; and
(ii) Is not an integral part of an institution of higher education; and
(5) A private library, but only if the state in which such private library is located determines that the library should be considered a library for the purposes of this definition.
(d) Library consortium. A "library consortium" is any local, statewide, regional, or interstate cooperative association of libraries that provides for the systematic and effective coordination of the resources of school, public, academic, and special libraries and information centers, for improving services to the clientele of such libraries. For the purposes of these rules, references to library will also refer to library consortium.
(e) Lowest corresponding price. "Lowest corresponding price" is the lowest price that a service provider charges to non-residential customers who are similarly situated to a particular school, library, or library consortium for similar services.
(f) National school lunch program. The "national school lunch program" is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state agencies that provides free or reduced price lunches to economically disadvantaged children. A child whose family income is between 130 percent and 185 percent of applicable family size income levels contained in the nonfarm poverty guidelines prescribed by the Office of Management and Budget is eligible for a reduced price lunch. A child whose family income is 130 percent or less of applicable family size income levels contained in the nonfarm income poverty guidelines prescribed by the Office of Management and Budget is eligible for a free lunch.
(g) Pre-discount price. The "pre-discount price" means, in this subpart, the price the service provider agrees to accept as total payment for its telecommunications or information services. This amount is the sum of the amount the service provider expects to receive from the eligible school or library and the amount it expects to receive as reimbursement from the universal service support mechanisms for the discounts provided under this subpart.
(h) Secondary school .A "secondary school" is a non-profit institutional day or residential school that provides secondary education, as determined under state law. A secondary school does not offer education beyond grade 12.
§ 54.501 Eligibility for services provide by telecommunications carriers.
(a) Telecommunications carriers shall be eligible for universal service support under this subpart for providing supported services to eligible schools, libraries, and consortia including those entities.
(1) Only schools meeting the statutory definitions of "elementary school," as defined in 20 U.S.C. § 8801(14), or "secondary school," as defined in 20 U.S.C. § 8801(25), and not excluded under paragraphs (a)(2) or (a)(3) of this section shall be eligible for discounts on telecommunications and other supported services under this subpart.
(2) Schools operating as for-profit businesses shall not be eligible for discounts under this subpart.
(3) Schools with endowments exceeding $50,000,000 shall not be eligible for discounts under this subpart.
(1) Only libraries eligible for assistance from a State library administrative agency under the Library Services and Technology Act (Public Law 104-208) and not excluded under paragraphs (b)(2) or (b)(3) of this section shall be eligible for discounts under this subpart.
(2) A library's eligibility for universal service funding shall depend on its funding as an independent entity. Only libraries whose budgets are completely separate from any schools (including, but not limited to, elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities) shall be eligible for discounts as libraries under this subpart.
(3) Libraries operating as for-profit businesses shall not be eligible for discounts under this subpart.
(1) For purposes of seeking competitive bids for telecommunications services, schools and libraries eligible for support under this subpart may form consortia with other eligible schools and libraries, with health care providers eligible under subpart G, and with public sector (governmental) entities, including, but not limited to, state colleges and state universities, state educational broadcasters, counties, and municipalities, when ordering telecommunications and other supported services under this subpart. With one exception, eligible schools and libraries participating in consortia with ineligible private sector members shall not be eligible for discounts for interstate services under this subpart. A consortium may include ineligible private sector entities if the pre-discount prices of any services that such consortium receives from ILECs are generally tariffed rates.
(2) For consortia, discounts under this subpart shall apply only to the portion of eligible telecommunications and other supported services used by eligible schools and libraries.
(3) State agencies may receive discounts on the purchase of telecommunications and information services that they make on behalf of and for the direct use of eligible schools and libraries, as through state networks.
(4) Service providers shall keep and retain records of rates charged to and discounts allowed for eligible schools and libraries -- on their own or as part of a consortium. Such records shall be available for public inspection.
§ 54.502 Supported telecommunications services.
For the purposes of this subpart, supported telecommunications services provided by telecommunications carriers include all commercially available telecommunications services.
§ 54.503 Other supported special services.
For the purposes of this subpart, other supported special services provided by telecommunications carriers include Internet access and installation and maintenance of internal connections.
§ 54.504 Requests for service.
(a) Competitive Bidding Requirement. All eligible schools, libraries, and consortia including those entities shall participate in a competitive bidding process, pursuant to the requirements established in this subpart, but this requirement shall not preempt state or local competitive bidding requirements.
(b) Posting of Requests for Service.
(1) Schools, libraries, and consortia including those entities wishing to receive discounts for eligible services under this subpart shall submit requests for services to a subcontractor designated by the administrator for this purpose. Requests for services and shall include, at a minimum, the following information, to the extent applicable to the services requested:
(i) The computer equipment currently available or budgeted for purchase for the current, next, or other future academic years, as well as whether the computers have modems and, if so, what speed modems;
(ii) The internal connections, if any, that the school or library has in place or has budgeted to install in the current, next, or future academic years, or any specific plans for an organized voluntary effort to connect the classrooms;
(iii) The computer software necessary to communicate with other computers over an internal network and over the public telecommunications network currently available or budgeted for purchase for the current, next, or future academic years;
(iv) The experience of, and training received by, the relevant staff in the use of the equipment to be connected to the telecommunications network and training programs for which funds are committed for the current, next, or future academic years;
(v) Existing or budgeted maintenance contracts to maintain computers; and
(vi) The capacity of the school's or library's electrical system in terms of how many computers can be operated simultaneously without creating a fire hazard.
(2) The request for services shall be signed by the person authorized to order telecommunications and other supported services for the school or library and shall include that person's certification under oath that:
(i) The school or library is an eligible entity under §§ 254(h)(4) and 254(h)(5) of the Act and the rules adopted under this subpart;
(ii) The services requested will be used solely for educational purposes;
(iii) The services will not be sold, resold, or transferred in consideration for money or any other thing of value;
(iv) If the services are being purchased as part of an aggregated purchase with other entities, the request identifies all co-purchasers and the services or portion of the services being purchased by the school or library;
(v) All of the necessary funding in the current funding year has been budgeted and approved to pay for the "non-discount" portion of requested connections and services as well as any necessary hardware, software, and to undertake the necessary staff training required to use the services effectively;
(vi) The school, library, or consortium including those entities has complied with all applicable state and local procurement processes; and
(vii) The school, library, or consortium including those entities has a technology plan that has been certified by its state or an independent entity approved by the Commission.
(3) After posting a description of services from a school, library, or consortium of these entities on the school and library website, the administrator's subcontractor shall send confirmation of the posting to the entity requesting services. That entity shall then wait at least four weeks from the date on which its description of services is posted on the website before making commitments with the selected providers of services. The confirmation from the administrator shall include the date after which the requestor may sign a contract with its chosen provider(s).
(c) Rate Disputes. Schools, libraries, and consortia including those entities, and service providers may have recourse to the Commission, regarding interstate rates, and to state commissions, regarding intrastate rates, if they reasonably believe that the lowest corresponding price is unfairly high or low.
(1) Schools, libraries, and consortia including those entities may request lower rates if the rate offered by the carrier does not represent the lowest corresponding price.
(2) Service providers may request higher rates if they can show that the lowest corresponding price is not compensatory, because the relevant school, library, or consortium including those entities is not similarly situated to and subscribing to a similar set of services to the customer paying the lowest corresponding price.
§ 54.505 Discounts.
(a) Discount Mechanism. Discounts for eligible schools and libraries shall be set as a percentage discount from the pre-discount price.
(b) Discount Percentages. The discounts available to eligible schools and libraries shall range from 20 percent to 90 percent of the pre-discount price for all eligible services provided by eligible providers, as defined in this subpart. The discounts available to a particular school, library, or consortium of only such entities shall be determined by indicators of poverty and high cost.
(1) For schools and school districts, the level of poverty shall be measured by the percentage of their student enrollment that is eligible for a free or reduced price lunch under the national school lunch program or a federally-approved alternative mechanism. School districts applying for eligible services on behalf of their individual schools may calculate the district-wide percentage of eligible students using a weighted average. For example, a school district would divide the total number of students in the district eligible for the national school lunch program by the total number of students in the district to compute the district-wide percentage of eligible students. Alternatively, the district could apply on behalf of individual schools and use the respective percentage discounts for which the individual schools are eligible.
(2) For libraries and library consortia, the level of poverty shall be based on the percentage of the student enrollment that is eligible for a free or reduced price lunch under the national school lunch program or a federally-approved alternative mechanism in the public school district in which they are located. If the library is not in a school district then its level of poverty shall be based on an average of the percentage of students eligible for the national school lunch program in each of the school districts that children living in the library's location attend. Library systems applying for discounted services on behalf of their individual branches shall calculate the system-wide percentage of eligible families using an unweighted average based on the percentage of the student enrollment that is eligible for a free or reduced price lunch under the national school lunch program in the public school district in which they are located for each of their branches or facilities.
(3) The administrator shall classify schools and libraries as "urban" or "rural" based on location in an urban or rural area, according to the following designations.
(i) Schools and libraries located in metropolitan counties, as measured by the Office of Management and Budget's Metropolitan Statistical Area method, shall be designated as urban, except for those schools and libraries located within metropolitan counties identified by census block or tract in the Goldsmith Modification.
(ii) Schools and libraries located in non-metropolitan counties, as measured by the Office of Management and Budget's Metropolitan Statistical Area method, shall be designated as rural. Schools and libraries located in rural areas within metropolitan counties identified by census block or tract in the Goldsmith Modification shall also be designated as rural.
(c)Matrix. The administrator shall use the following matrix to set a discount rate to be applied to eligible interstate services purchased by eligible schools, school districts, libraries, or library consortia based on the institution's level of poverty and location in an "urban" or "rural" area.
(d) Consortia. Consortia applying for discounted services on behalf of their members shall calculate the portion of the total bill eligible for a discount using a weighted average based on the share of the pre-discount price for which each eligible school or library agrees to be financially liable. Each eligible school, school district, library or library consortia will be credited with the discount to which it is entitled.
(e) Interstate and Intrastate Services. Federal universal service support for schools and libraries shall be provided for both interstate and intrastate services.
(1) Federal universal service support under this subpart for eligible schools and libraries in a state is contingent upon the establishment of intrastate discounts no less than the discounts applicable for interstate services.
(2) A state may, however, secure a temporary waiver of this latter requirement based on unusually compelling conditions.
§ 54.507 Cap.
(a) Amount of the Annual Cap. The annual cap on federal universal service support for schools and libraries shall be $2.25 billion per funding year, and all funding authority for a given funding year that is unused shall be carried forward into subsequent years for use in accordance with demand, as determined by the administrator, with two exceptions. First, no more than $1 billion shall be collected or spent for the funding period from January 1, 1998 through June 30, 1998. Second, no more than half of the unused portion of the funding authority for calendar year 1998 shall be spent in calendar year 1999, and no more than half of the unused funding authority from calendar years 1998 and 1999 shall be used in calendar year 2000.
(b) Funding Year. The funding year for purposes of the schools and libraries cap shall be the calendar year.
(c) Requests. Funds shall be available to fund discounts for eligible schools and libraries and consortia of such eligible entities on a first-come-first-served basis, with requests accepted beginning on the first of July prior to each funding year. The administrator's subcontractor shall maintain a running tally of the funds that the administrator has already committed for the existing funding year on the school and library website.
(d) Annual Filing Requirement. Schools and libraries, and consortia of such eligible entities shall file new funding requests for each funding year no sooner than the July 1 prior to the start of that funding year.
(e) Long Term Contracts. If schools and libraries enter into long term contracts for eligible services, the administrator shall only commit funds to cover the pro rata portion of such a long term contract scheduled to be delivered during the funding year for which universal service support is sought.
(f) Rules of Priority. When expenditures in any funding year reach the level where only $250 million remains before the cap will be reached, funds shall be distributed in accordance to the following rules of priority:
(1) The administrator's subcontractor shall post a message on the school and library website, notify the Commission, and take reasonable steps to notify the educational and library communities that commitments for the remaining $250 million of support will only be made to the most economically disadvantaged schools and libraries (those in the two most disadvantaged categories) for the next 30 days or the remainder of the funding year, whichever is shorter.
(2) The most economically disadvantaged schools and libraries (those in the two most disadvantaged categories) that have not received discounts from the universal service support mechanism in the previous or current funding years shall have exclusive rights to secure commitments for universal service support under this subpart for a 30-day period or the remainder of the funding year, whichever is shorter. If such schools and libraries have received universal service support only for basic telephone service in the previous or current funding years, they shall remain eligible for the highest priority once spending commitments leave only $250 million remaining before the funding cap is reached.
(3) Other economically disadvantaged schools and libraries (those in the two most disadvantaged categories) that have received discounts from the universal service support mechanism in the previous or current funding years shall have the next highest priority, if additional funds are available at the end of the 30-day period or the funding year, whichever is shorter.
(4) If funds still remain after all requests submitted by schools and libraries described in paragraphs (f)(2) and (f)(3) of this section during the 30-day period have been met, the administrator shall allocate the remaining available funds to all other eligible schools and libraries in the order in which their requests have been received, until the $250 million is exhausted or the funding year ends.
§ 54.509 Adjustments to the discount matrix.
(a) Estimating future spending requests. When submitting their requests for specific amounts of funding for a funding year, schools, libraries, library consortia, and consortia including such entities shall also estimate their funding requests for the following funding year to enable the administrator to estimate funding demand for the following year.
(b) Reduction in Percentage Discounts. If the estimates schools and libraries make of their future funding needs lead the Administrator to predict that total funding requests for a funding year will exceed the available funding then the Administrator shall calculate the percentage reduction to all schools and libraries, except those in the two most disadvantaged categories, necessary to permit all requests in the next funding year to be fully funded. The administrator must then request the Commission's approval of the recommended adjustments.
(c) Remaining Funds. If funds remain under the cap at the end of the funding year in which discounts have been reduced below those set in the matrices above, the administrator shall consult with the Commission to establish the best way to distribute those funds.
§ 54.511 Ordering services.
(a) Selecting a Provider of Eligible Services. In selecting a provider of eligible services, schools, libraries, library consortia, and consortia including any of those entities shall carefully consider all bids submitted and may consider relevant factors other than the pre-discount prices submitted by providers.
(b) Lowest Corresponding Price. Providers of eligible services shall not charge schools, school districts, libraries, library consortia, and consortia including any of those entities a price above the lowest corresponding price for supported services, unless the Commission, with respect to interstate services or the state commission with respect to intrastate services, finds that the lowest corresponding price is not compensatory.
(c) Schools and libraries bound by existing contracts. Schools and libraries bound by existing contracts for service shall not be required to breach those contracts in order to qualify for discounts under this subpart during the period for which they are bound. This exemption from competitive bidding requirements, however, shall not apply to voluntary extensions of existing contracts.
§ 54.513 Resale.
(a) Prohibition on Resale. Eligible services purchased at a discount under this subpart shall not be sold, resold, or transferred in consideration of money or any other thing of value.
(b) Permissible Fees. This prohibition on resale shall not bar schools, school districts, libraries, and library consortia from charging either computer lab fees or fees for classes in how to navigate over the Internet. There is no prohibition on the resale of services that are not purchased pursuant to the discounts provided in this subpart.
§ 54.515 Distributing support.
(a) A telecommunications carrier providing services eligible for support under this subpart to eligible schools and libraries shall treat the amount eligible for support under this subpart as an offset against the carrier's universal service support obligation for the year in which the costs for providing eligible services were incurred.
(b) If the total amount of support owed to a carrier, as set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, exceeds its universal service obligation, calculated on an annual basis, the carrier may receive a direct reimbursement in the amount of the difference.
(c) Any reimbursement due a carrier shall be made after the offset is credited against that carrier's universal service obligation.
(d) Any reimbursement due a carrier shall be submitted to that carrier no later than the end of the first quarter of the calendar year following the year in which the costs were incurred and the offset against the carrier's universal service obligation was applied.
§ 54.516 Auditing.
(a) Recordkeeping Requirements. Schools and libraries shall be required to maintain for their purchases of telecommunications and other supported services at discounted rates the kind of procurement records that they maintain for other purchases.
(b) Production of Records. Schools and libraries shall produce such records at the request of any auditor appointed by a state education department, the administrator, or any state or federal agency with jurisdiction.
(c) Random Audits. Schools and libraries shall be subject to random compliance audits to evaluate what services they are purchasing and how such services are being used.
§ 54.517 Services provided by non-telecommunications carriers.
(a) Non-telecommunications carriers shall be eligible for universal service support under this subpart for providing covered services for eligible schools, libraries and consortia including those entities.
(b) Supported services. Non-telecommunications carriers shall be eligible for universal service support under this subpart for providing Internet access and installation and maintenance of internal connections.
(c) Requirements. Such services provided by non-telecommunications carriers shall be subject to all the provisions of this subpart, except §§ 54.501(a), 54.502, 54.503, 54.515.