FCC Proposes “Off-Campus” E-Rate Internet Access by Students

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The FCC has released a public notice seeking comment on two petitions, both of which request the FCC to allow E-rate subsidized broadband networks to be accessed by students at home for educational purposes and without an obligation on the E-rate applicant to cost allocate the portion of the traffic attributable to off-campus use.  Presently, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, requires telecommunications providers to offers discounts to eligible schools and libraries for educational purposes.  Part of the “E-rate” program’s requirement is that qualifying schools and libraries certify that, among other things, requested services would be used solely for “educational purposes” and that services utilized for non-educational purposes be reported as such and rated without a cost discount.  The two petitions, the first filed by Microsoft Corp., Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. and other petitioners, and the second filed by Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law and Policy Clinic on behalf of the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, seek to leverage existing E-rate supported services to allow Internet traffic originating at students’ homes to be directed to and carried over E-rate supported networks without creating an obligation on the applicant to cost allocate.  Comments are due on or before Thursday, November 3, 2016 and reply comments are due on or before Monday, December 5, 2016.

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