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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 97-2111


Solicitation of Public Comment on Commission Order on the Schools and Libraries Program: Late Fee Charges and the Schools and Libraries Education Rate (E-Rate) Program

[27 Pa.B. 6888]

   PUC Doc. No. I-00940035: In Re: Formal Investigation to Examine and Establish Updated Principles and Policies for Telecommunications Services in the Commonwealth: Late Fee Charges and the Schools and Libraries E-Rate Program.

   On January 1, 1998, the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Discount Program (commonly referred to as the Education Rate or E-Rate Program) is scheduled to begin. The E-Rate Program is funded by assessments on all providers of interstate telecommunications services. The $2.25 billion is a Federally-administered program that will provide discounts on telecommunications services, Internet access and internal connections for schools and libraries. The discounts range from 20% to 90%, depending on the percentage of students eligible for the national free or reduced lunch program, and whether the school or library is located in a rural or urban county.

   Based on the rules prescribing the administration of the E-Rate Program, the Schools and Libraries Corporation must inform the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) of the amount of money to be paid to a service provider within 20 days of receipt of a bill for service. 47 C.F.R. 69.619(a)(7). USAC then has an additional 20 days to disburse the payment to the service provider within 20 days of receiving the authorization from Schools and Libraries Corporation. 47 C.F.R. 69.616(b). Consequently, there will be a 40-day billing lag for receipt of payments from the E-Rate Fund. This period of time will likely exceed the usual payment cycle for business customers, and could trigger the late payment provisions of the State's telecommunications carriers' tariffs.

   The application of late payment charges in this context could add to the costs of service incurred by schools and libraries. That result may be contrary to the discount program and the goals of the E-Rate Program.

   The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission) seeks to coordinate implementation of the E-Rate program in this Commonwealth with minimal additional costs to the recipient schools and libraries. To that end, the Commission is soliciting public comments on the following topics:

   1.  Whether it is appropriate for local exchange carriers in this Commonwealth to waive the late payment charges that might otherwise apply under the Administrative Rules of the Schools and Libraries corporation;

   2.  What other approaches would be appropriate to resolving the potential for assessing late payment charges and other charges under the Administrative Rules of the Schools and Libraries corporation; and

   3.  Any other considerations or comments that would be useful to the Commission in addressing this issue.

   Interested parties are hereby given 20 days from the publication of this notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin to submit an original and 15 copies of any comments on this matter to the Commission.

   The contact person at the Commission is Joseph K. Witmer, Assistant Counsel, Law Bureau, (717) 787-3663. Comments should be filed at Doc. No. I-00940035.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 97-2111. Filed for public inspection December 26, 1997, 9:00 a.m.]

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