The FCC voted 3-2 for the $1.5 billion increase on December 11th, a plan that hopes to expand schools’ and libraries’ access to high-speed internet capabilities. For so many schools this area has been neglected, and it has started to cripple their ability to teach in our technologically advanced era.
While E-rate funding has been held at a stagnant $2.25 billion for more than a decade, history was made with the approved increase for schools and libraries. The overall spending cap has moved from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion per year. The increased funding for the program, along with the necessary E-rate changes, are going to help schools and the program focus its attention on modern technologies. E-rate, led by FCC Chairman Wheeler, is now the third largest source of federal funding for schools.
Your Pine Cove Consultants, along with other advocates of the new funding, are hoping for the change to close the technology gap within schools- and especially rural schools like Montana and Wyoming where funding can be scarce.
Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said in a statement that the funding boost reflects a "national commitment to educational excellence and equity."
"A solid technology infrastructure in schools places a world of knowledge, expertise and resources at students’ fingertips, and empowers students to develop and practice the skills they will need to meet the high standards for college and career readiness states are currently implementing," Bartoletti continued. "Reliable broadband access is an essential complement to the connected leadership principals provide in schools across the nation."
Bartoletti said it best, and PCC could not be more excited to help our clients utilize this free funding. What do you need to do next besides take advantage of this opportunity for your school? Apply!
An overview of rules as stated by the FCC:
- Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.
- Funding may be requested under two categories of service: category one services to a school or library (telecommunications, telecommunications services and Internet access), and category two services that deliver Internet access within schools and libraries (internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services).
- Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and whether the school or library is located in an urban or rural area. The discounts range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services.
- E-rate program funding is based on demand up to an annual Commission-established cap of about $2.4 billion (now changed to $3.9 billion).
The E-rate program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company under the direction of the FCC. Specifically, USAC is responsible for processing the applications for support, confirming eligibility, and reimbursing service providers and eligible schools and libraries for the discounted services. USAC also ensures that the applicants and service providers comply with the E-rate rules and procedures established by the Commission. Need more e-rate consulting? Call your Pine Cove Consultants!
For more information on the FCC go to http://www.fcc.gov/
Want to read more about Priority 1 and 2 changes?