The FCC has released a Notice of Proposal Rulemaking (NPRM) that, if adopted, would eliminate an E-Rate program condition requiring schools and libraries to amortize over three years upfront, non-recurring charges of “category one” broadband construction projects that cost $500,000 or more. The FCC had previously suspended the amortization requirement for funding year 2015 through funding year 2018, but the NPRM has extended this suspension for at least the duration of the rulemaking proceeding, and, if adopted, would permanently remove the requirement.
As justification for its NPRM, the agency explained that its suspension of the amortization requirement encouraged broadband investment, especially in rural areas, and decreased administration costs related to E-Rate funding distribution. The FCC believes that permanently eliminating this requirement would maintain or improve upon 2015-2018 broadband investment funding and administration savings, but it is inviting commenters to offer their perspectives on these beliefs. Comments on the NPRM will be due 30 days after the item is published in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred. Reply comments will be due 45 days after the item is published in the Federal Register.