You’ve received your funding commitment letter, but you realize that some of the details about a particular contract have changed since you filled out your Form 471 requesting discounts for that service. Or maybe you want to change those details now. What do you do?
There are most likely two possibilities in which the terms of a contract will change. One is if the details of a service have changed. For example, say you’ve asked for funding for a particular type of server. Now it’s no longer manufactured, or maybe your needs have changed, so you’ve decided to purchase a different type of server instead.
As long as it’s still an eligible service delivered by the same vendor, and as long as you’re not asking for more money from the Universal Service Fund, you don’t have to contact the SLC to make this change, according to SLC’s Mickey Revenaugh.
Similarly, suppose the price on a high-speed data line from your vendor goes down, and now you can afford to purchase three lines for the same price you would have paid for two. Again, as long as you’re not asking for more funding, you’re allowed to stretch existing funding to cover more eligible services.
What you’re not allowed to do is stretch funding for an eligible service to purchase an ineligible one. For example, you can’t purchase a cheaper server to save money for a desktop computer. The SLC will be conducting post-funding audits to make sure you’re not using discounts to purchase any ineligible services.<
You’re also not allowed to transfer costs or services between Funding Request Numbers. For example, say your local phone company offers to expand your local calling area for slightly more money, which would result in a higher local charge but a lower long-distance charge and an overall savings. The way the program is structured now, you can’t save on one item by spending more on another item with a different FRN.
In future years, according to the SLC, the corporation may be able to build more flexibility into the program, but for now each FRN must stand on its own.
The second likely scenario in which the terms of a contract may change is if you change service providers. This might occur if (1) your original service provider goes out of business; (2) your provider can’t live up to the terms of a contract; or (3) you are totally dissatisfied with your service.
According to the SLC, there will be a procedure for you to change service providers if necessary, but at press time the details hadn’t been worked out. You should check with the SLC if you have any questions.
If you do decide to change service providers, you’ll need to choose a vendor who has gone through the FCC’s competitive bidding process, and you’ll need to comply with your own state and local procurement laws. Your new vendor must agree to provide the service for the same amount of money, or you must be willing to pay the difference yourself.