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 is now expands to its Healthcare members through its new MiCTA National Healthcare Connect Fund Program.
On July 11, 2014 the FCC passed the “Report and Order 14-99 Modernizing the E-Rate Program.” This “Order” makes sweeping changes to the E-Rate Program by removing or phasing out previously funded “operational” services in order to focus more of the Program’s resources on broadband connectivity to the majority of schools and libraries in the country which reflects President Obama’s “Connect Ed” proclamation. The Order also adds 1 billion dollars, for at least the next two years, to on premise network distribution equipment with a focus on “Fixed Wireless” (Wi-Fi) internet access. We are currently waiting for announcement of the OMB’s approval of the new Form 471 in preparation for the 2015 funding cycle starting sometime in early January, 2015 as ordered by the FCC.
Healthcare Connect Fund
After many “change in rules/eligible services” filing requests with the FCC, 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” HCPs to participate for the first time adding expertise to the diagnostic and treatment process. MiCTA is pleased that in the Order the Commission agreed with MiCTA and is allowing our Healthcare members to use MiCTA MSAs awarded through the E-Rate 470 process and by-pass the HCF 461 bid process.
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 and supporting documentation may be filed through the end of the funding year which will end on June 30, 2015. This extended 462 filing process provides the opportunity for qualified applicants to still receive funding within the annual July 1 to June 30 funding cycle on a “first come first severed” basis as long as annual funding is still available.
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.”