E-rate/Schools and Libraries Program
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau announces the E-Rate and Rural Health Care (RHC) programs’ funding caps for funding year 2022. The new caps represent a 4.2% inflation-adjusted increase in each program cap from funding year 2021. The E-Rate program funding cap for funding year 2022 is $4,456,460,992. The new cap represents a 4.2% inflation-adjusted increase in the $4,276,833,965 cap from funding year 2021.
Zayo announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Nashville-based Education Networks of America (ENA), a provider of managed network services to the education and public sector verticals. ENA targets K-12, higher education, healthcare, library, and government organizations with a variety of network services, specializing in E-Rate funded programs. E-Rate is a program funded through the Universal Service Fund, providing funding to school systems and libraries for connectivity and other technology. ENA has a national reach.
While the recent COVID-response programs are welcomed additions to the effort to connect all people, they are only one part of the total ecosystem required to achieve universal service. The Universal Service Fund continues to be an important part of that ecosystem. Specifically, the Lifeline program’s voice and data and voiceonly subsidies for consumers is not replicated elsewhere, and the Emergency Connectivity Fund program does not reach as far or cover as many needs as the E-rate program. One program does not serve all ends.
Free Press Calls on the FCC to Update Its USF Programs and Push for Permanent Funding of the Affordable Connectivity Program
Free Press called on the Federal Communications Commission to reinvent its Universal Service Fund (USF) policies so that millions more people can afford the costs of connectivity in the United States. Free Press urged the FCC and Congress to redraft policies crafted in the late 1990s, and last overhauled more than a decade ago, to reflect the sector’s many changes. Free Press wrote, “the good intentions that fueled that effort are no longer a reliable blueprint in a fundamentally changed marketplace.
INCOMPAS is pressing the Federal Communications Commission to make the smart, transparent and expedient choice to save the Universal Service Fund. By evolving USF to include contributions from broadband internet access service providers, which the FCC could do immediately without an act of Congress, INCOMPAS says low-income families, schools and rural hospitals would all benefit from this renewed commitment to ongoing affordability solutions. INCOMPAS warns that the USF program is spiraling toward disaster, with contribution levels set to rise to nearly 40%.
FCC Partners with Institute Of Museum And Library Services to Address Digital Divide on Tribal Lands
The Federal Communications Commission announced that it is partnering with the Institute of Museum and Library Services to expand broadband connectivity to Tribal libraries. The agencies will team up to raise awareness about the E-Rate program among Tribal libraries and organizations, which can use program funds to increase broadband access to serve their communities. To kick off this partnership, the agencies recently reached out to all 574 Tribal leaders to provide information about the E-Rate program and opportunities for Tribal libraries to participate.
The Federal Communications Commission adopted an order updating rules in the E-Rate program to clarify that Tribal libraries can access funding to provide affordable internet access in their communities. The Order updates the definition of “library” in the E-Rate program rules to make clear that it includes Tribal libraries, resolving a longstanding issue that limited their access to affordable broadband connectivity through the program.
In response to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission established universal service mechanisms to help ensure that all Americans have access to affordable telecommunications service. Congress mandated that these programs be supported by contributions from every telecommunications carrier that provides interstate telecommunications, and other providers of telecommunications services if the FCC finds contributions from such providers to be in the public interest.
On December 23, 2021, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) highlighted the accomplishments of its new Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth over the past year and begins what will be annual tracking of investments in federal broadband support programs and Universal Service Fund programs. In the ACCESS BROADBAND 2021 Report NTIA also makes recommendations to improve efforts to track broadband spending and outcomes. The law also requires the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth to submit a report to Congress each year that i
The Federal Communications Commission approved a proposal seeking comment on improving transparency and efficiency in the competitive bidding process for the E-Rate program. The proposal would require bids for E-Rate services and equipment to be uploaded into a centralized document portal managed by the Universal Service Administrative Company. This would replace a process by which service providers submit bids directly to applicants for E-Rate-supported equipment and services. The order also seeks comment on other ways to improve the competitive bidding process and