Mississippi E-Rate

Service Substitutions

Service substitutions involve the delivery of products and/or services different from those specified in the Form 471 application. In certain limited circumstances, applicants can request and be approved for service substitutions.

I. Criteria for service substitutions

Substitution of a service or product must meet the following conditions, which are specified in guidance from the FCC: 
1. The substituted service or product has the same functionality as the original proposal. 
2. The substitution does not result in an increase in price. 
3. The substitution does not violate any contract provisions or state or local procurement laws. 
4. The substitution does not result in an increase in the percentage of ineligible services or functions. 
5. The substitution is consistent with the Form 470 posting and original RFP, if any.

(Order in CC Dockets 96-45 and 97-21, DA 01-387, Released February 14, 2001.)

As an example of a service substitution from the above Order, an applicant was granted a service substitution to use 87 six-port modules instead of the original proposal of 58 eight-port modules. Similar changes are possible if they meet the above five criteria.

II. How to apply for a service substitution

A service substitution is administered as a minor modification to an existing contract. Applicants request approval of service substitutions by completing and submitting Blocks 1, 2 and 6 of a paper Form 471. Block 6 is a signed certification that program requirements have been met, including compliance with state and local procurement laws. Block 2 requires an attachment describing the modification proposed.

In the case of service substitutions, the attachment must contain this information: 
* A listing that indicates the "from" and "to" for each proposed change, by manufacturer, model number, description/function, and cost of each item for which substitution is requested. 
* A listing that indicates the "from" and "to" for each installation cost, non-recurring maintenance cost, and recurring maintenance cost as a result of the proposed service substitution. 
* An additional certification from the applicant, beyond that required in Block 6, which contains the following elements: 
1. the substituted product or service has the same functionality as the original proposal, 
2. the substitution does not result in an increase in the percentage of ineligible services or functions, 
3. the substitution does not violate any contract provisions, and 
4. the requested change is consistent with the controlling Form 470 and any Request for Proposal for the original services.

False statements on the attachment carry the same penalties as indicated in Block 6 of Form 471.

Applications for service substitution should be submitted to: 
Service Substitutions 
Schools and Libraries Division 
Box 125 — Correspondence Unit 
80 South Jefferson Road 
Whippany, New Jersey 07981 

III. Service Provider Role

Service Providers can substantially assist the service substitution process by submitting information about product changes that may have a large program impact, such as a modification from a discontinued model number to a new model number, that would affect a substantial number of applicants. Although this additional procedure is optional, it can improve the processing of service substitutions by SLD when multiple applicants are affected. 
The additional procedure has these steps:

1. The Service Provider submits a list of products and/or services to be substituted, indicating the "from" and "to" for each, and the manufacturer, model and cost. 
2. SLD determines service substitution eligibility, and issues a letter to the Service Provider indicating approval or denial. 
3. If the request is approved, the Service Provider provides a copy of the SLD approval letter to affected applicants, who in turn attach it to their Form 471 service substitution applications using the procedure described above. Service Providers should submit the requesting letter to:

Schools and Libraries Division 
Attention: Services Manager 
Box 125 — Correspondence Unit 
80 South Jefferson Road 
Whippany, New Jersey 07981

Service Providers may call the Services Manager at (973) 884-8237 for further information.

IV. Additional information about service substitutions

The questions and answers that follow provide further information about service substitutions, and how they are administered by the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD). 

Q. What types of changes are allowed under the service substitution criteria?

A. Service substitutions involve changes in the specific technical components indicated in the attachment referenced in Block 5, Item 21, Description of Service, of the Form 471. (This was Item 17 for the Form 471 for Funding Years 1 and 2.) See the next two questions and answers for examples of allowable and unallowable service substitutions. 

Q. Can I change the technology employed, say from T-1 to DSL? From voice to video?

A. Different technologies that achieve the same functionality are eligible for service substitutions, so long as other criteria are met (such as consistency with the controlling Form 470). "Better" or "faster" within the same functionality is allowed provided that cost does not increase. Therefore, a change from T-1 to DSL could be approved because these are both technologies that provide transport of data. However, a change to a new functionality, such as from voice to video, would not be authorized under FCC guidelines. 
"Same functionality" means the same type of transmission — data, voice or video — and the same purpose, such as "telephone service," "local area network file server," "lease of high speed data lines," and so on. 

Q. Can I change between funding categories, such as from Telecommunications Services to Internet Access?

A. No. The requirement for the same functionality means also that the same service category must be maintained. 

Q. Can the new product or service be more expensive, if discounts are not requested on that additional cost?

A. No. Consistent with FCC guidance, the total cost of the product or service may not be higher as a result of the substitution. Service substitution requests are considered on the basis of individual Funding Request Numbers (FRNs). One or more components within an FRN could be modified to a higher cost, so long as cost decreases to other components within that FRN result in no total increase in the FRN. 

Q. If the product or service substituted is less expensive, can SLD funds committed for the product or service represented in the original request be used for additional eligible products or services?

A. No. Any cost change submitted by an applicant in a service substitution request will be considered a request for modification of the funding commitment, just as though the applicant had submitted a Form 500 with a reduction in funding commitment. Therefore, when a request that includes a cost decrease is approved, SLD will adjust the commitment for the affected FRNs. In this way, both the applicant and the entire program benefit from any lowered pricing obtained. 

Q. When can a request for service substitution be made — any time after submittal of the original Form 471, or only after approval of the Form 471?

A. Service substitution requests will be processed only if they are submitted after a funding commitment is issued on a Funding Commitment Decision Letter. However, even though unsolicited service substitution changes from applicants will not be accepted prior to this time, the applicant may provide updated information to SLD if SLD contacts the applicant to request further information or clarification during review of the original Form 471 submission. 

Q. My service provider has begun delivering services and I have already filed my Form 486. Can I still request a service substitution?

A. Yes. However, if on review SLD determines that the proposed change does not meet the criteria for service substitutions, SLD may refuse to pay the invoice for ineligible products or services. 

Q. Can the Service Provider be changed when making service substitution requests?

A. Yes. The procedure for changing Service Providers can be found in the document SPIN Change Guidance posted in the Reference Area of this web site.

Applicants may make a simultaneous request for both service substitution and change in Service Provider by 
(1) following the steps for filing a Form 471 modification as outlined in these Service Substitution procedures, and, 
(2) including the letter described in the SPIN Change Guidance procedure as an additional attachment to the service substitution request.

In the event that a simultaneous service substitution and Service Provider change cannot be granted due to a problem with one request or the other, SLD will contact the applicant to determine if SLD should continue to process the remaining request. 

Q. How long will it take to receive a decision on a service substitution request?

A. Since additional processing is required for service substitution requests, applicants are urged to make their Form 471 submissions as accurate and complete as possible. If the 471 submission is properly completed and requires no contact between SLD and the applicant or service provider, SLD internal guidelines have the goal of a six-week turnaround. More time may be necessary if the request is complex, if additional information is required, or if high processing workloads exist. 

QIs there a deadline for applicants to make service substitution requests?

A. A service substitution request should be received 90 days before the last day to receive service, in order for it to be reviewed and acted upon by SLD and for the services to be delivered in the funding year. 
The last day to receive service is generally June 30 of the relevant funding year, although the FCC has in the past extended that deadline for receipt of non-recurring services.

Mississippi E-Rate Resources

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