The FCC has released the text of its recently adopted E-Rate Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) which takes the first major steps in 17 years to modernize the schools and libraries universal service support mechanism (E-Rate program). In addition to the well publicized reforms to the support system for internal connections which will increase Wi-Fi connectivity in U.S. schools and libraries, the FCC has adopted a number of reforms that are expected to help achieve the following three goals for the E-Rate program: (1) ensuring affordable access to high-speed broadband sufficient to support digital learning in schools and robust connectivity for all libraries; (2) maximizing the cost-effectiveness of spending for E-Rate supported purchases; and (3) making the E-Rate application process and other E-Rate processes fast, simple and efficient. Among other things, in the FNPRM, comment is sought on meeting the future funding needs of the E-Rate program in light of the newly adopted program goals; ways to further simplify the administration of the E-Rate program by continuing to reduce the burden on applicants of applying for and receiving E-Rate support; and how to facilitate the use of cost-effective consortium-based purchasing. Comments in response to the FNPRM are due on or before September 15, 2014, and reply comments are due September 30, 2014.
For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.