On September 28, 2011, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released the 2012 Eligible Services List (“ESL”) to describe services and products eligible for E-Rate discounts in Funding Year 2012.

The FCC’s order accompanying the ESL clarifies several items in the ESL, but the revisions represent administrative, not substantive changes.

Perhaps as a sign of the times, the ESL includes mobile hotspot services designed for portable devices as a type of wireless Internet access service eligible for support. However, smart phones and tablets are identified as examples of end-user equipment that are not eligible for E-rate discounts.

Schools have been concerned about E-Rate support for payments to web hosting services. The FCC clarified that “a web hosting service that provides for the display of a school’s or library’s website on the Internet and the portions of a web hosting package that provide for interactive communication, such as blogging, web-based email, and discussion boards,” is eligible for support.

The FCC also clarified that if a technical support contract can be cost allocated to remove costs beyond the basic maintenance of internal connections (“BMIC”), those costs may be eligible for support. The previous ESL found that contracts that included BMIC were ineligible in their entirety.

The ESL Order authorizes USAC to open the annual application filing window no earlier than November 28, 2011.

The 2012 Eligible Services List is available here.

You can view the In re Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism Order (“ESL Order”) here.