FFC Raises Funding Cap to Finance Expansion of Schools and Libraries Wi-Fi Broadband Coverage and Capacity

FFC Raises Funding Cap to Finance Expansion of Schools and Libraries Wi-Fi Broadband Coverage and Capacity
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met today and approved an order to raise the cap on the Universal Service Fund.  The higher funding cap for the Universal Service Fund will  finance the E-Rate program giving schools and libraries discounts on Internet access and  helping pay for the physical connections needed to expand wireless broadband service.

The FCC Commissioners approved the Order raising the Cap on a  3-2 along party line vote.  Chairman Wheeler with Commissioner Rosenworcel and Commissioner Clyburn voted for the order that would raise the Universal Service Fund cap by up to $1.5 billion annually.

The approved order also makes other changes, including:
*allowing schools and libraries to pay large upfront construction costs over multiple years
*permitting program applicants to build high-speed broadband facilities themselves when doing so would be cost-effective, and
*matching state support for broadband with up to 10 percent of construction costs.

Retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the author of the E-Rate program, said that when he and others created the program, they weren’t sure “where the future would take us.  The accomplishments of the E-Rate program over the last decade and a half are something we should all be very proud of, and I am confident we have only begun to see the promise of this program. Today’s action will provide generations of students the opportunity to compete in an increasingly interconnected and data-driven world, and ultimately lead them to brighter future,” he said in a statement.

The FCC in July made changes to phase-out funding for outdated technology such as pagers to allow more funding to be invested in the connections needed to expand wireless and broadband coverage and capacity.

The Universal Service Fund E-Rate will be using $ 1 billion in added funding to finance school Wi-Fi broadband expansion in 2015 for school year 2015-2016.   
The change in the E-Rate cap will ensure that these additional funds will be available in future years.