First Wave of Funding Through Second E-Rate Application Window Announced

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission announced that $1,366,378 in E-Rate funding for 291 schools serving 220,584 students in 32 states and Puerto Rico has been committed so far during the Commission’s second application window for funding year 2020.  The FCC announced the opening of the second E-Rate application window on September 16, 2020, recognizing that schools across the United States are facing an increased demand for connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The E-Rate program, which is part of the Universal Service Fund, provides discounts to schools and libraries for broadband services.

“The enthusiastic response to this second opportunity to apply for funding speaks to the tremendous demand schools across the country are facing as teachers and students adapt to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “I’m pleased funds are being distributed to help schools meet this demand all across America and that we can help more students connect with their schools during the pandemic.”

During the second filing window, schools can purchase additional bandwidth for this academic year to address needs resulting from the increasing shift to 1:1 student-to-device ratios in classrooms, live streaming of classroom instruction to students at home, and expanding use of cloud-based educational tools and platforms—all of which can significantly increase on-campus bandwidth requirements. This filing window will close on October 16, 2020, and additional funding commitments will be issued in coming weeks.

Universal Service Discounts

Under the Communications Act, eligible schools may request universal service discounts for certain services, including connections necessary to support broadband connectivity to school “classrooms.” Consistent with the relief the Commission has previously provided to schools affected by natural disasters, the FCC has adopted temporary rules to provide immediate relief to schools that participate in the E-Rate program as they continue to contend with the ongoing disruptions caused by the pandemic.

In another effort to support remote learning for the nation’s schoolchildren, the FCC last week enabled hundreds of rural broadband providers to offer discounts and service upgrades to families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches through the National School Lunch Program. The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau worked with the National Exchange Carrier Association on tariff revisions that will provide eligible new customers of rural carriers a 25% discount on certain broadband services and offer existing eligible customers faster connections at no cost.

Earlier this year, the FCC announced extensions of key E-Rate service implementation and filing deadlines to provide relief to program participants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It also waived the program’s gift rules through the end of the year to enable service providers to offer, and E-Rate program participants to solicit and accept, improved connections or additional equipment for remote learning during the coronavirus outbreak.  nd the Commission has partnered with the Department of Education to promote the use of $16 billion in available funding for remote learning from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act’s Education Stabilization Fund. Several jurisdictions, from Alabama to Delaware, already have taken advantage of this opportunity.

For more information on the FCC’s E-Rate program, visit https://www.fcc.gov/general/e-rate-schools-libraries-usf-program.

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