Schools, Libraries Will Receive Full Request of $3.9B in E-Rate Funding
Schools and libraries across the country will be getting the full amount they requested to upgrade their telecommunications and wireless services from the Federal Communications Commission, which capped the funding this year at $3.9 billion.
In total, the districts requested $3.92 billion [including $1.6 billion for internal Wi-Fi networks] — just over the budget. According to figures from the FCC breaking down the funds, about 40 percent of the money is going toward upgrading internal connections. About 23 percent will pay for telecom services while 21 percent will go toward Internet access.
The E-Rate program, which provides the money for high-speed broadband, was drastically changed this year, with new funds available for Wi-Fi in schools and libraries for the first time in three years, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a blog post.
These requests reflect long pent-up demand. It is the first time in three years that E-rate has had any funds available for Wi-Fi at all. In the past, many schools and libraries didn’t bother to apply for Wi-Fi funding because they had no hope of getting funds. That is no longer a problem. As projected last year, we will be able to fully fund eligible Wi-Fi applications thanks entirely to fiscal and programmatic reforms that freed up more than $1.5 billion for Wi-Fi. Not an additional dime in ratepayer fees will be needed. Then, we made our allocations more equitable so all schools and libraries would get a shot. Finally, we prioritized broadband by phasing out support for phones, and outright eliminating support for pagers and other non-broadband services that don’t directly benefit students and library patrons.
See Also: Primary Documents/Data: FY2015 Demand Estimate (via USAC)
See Also: Primary Documents/Data: Wireline Competition Bureau Announces Carry-Forward of Unused Schools and Libraries Universal Service Funds For Funding Year 2015
On a Related Note…
FCC Issues Public Notice on Draft Eligible Services List for FY2016 (May 22, 2015; via FCC.gov)
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.