e-rate funding students on computer

The FCC will provide funding of $1,366,378 to 291 schools in 32 states and Puerto Rico through its E-Rate program. A total of 220,584 students could benefit from the new E-Rate funding.

The funding was awarded to entities that applied for funding during the second E-Rate application window that opened on September 16. The window was added because the FCC recognized the likelihood that needs would increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. E-Rate, which is part of the Universal Service Fund, provides discounts to schools and libraries for broadband services.

The press release about the E-Rate funding identified the move to one-to-one student device ratios in classrooms, live streaming to homes and cloud based tools and platforms as drivers of a likely increase in bandwidth requirements. “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,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in the press release.

The filing window will close on Friday. More announcements will be made in coming weeks.

This is the second action the FCC has taken this month to support education during the pandemic. Previously, the Wireline Competition Bureau and the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) instituted a tariff change enabling rural carriers to offer broadband connection discounts to rural families.

The tariff change enables rural providers to offer 25% discounts to new customers whose families include children eligible to receive free or reduced price school lunches through the National School Lunch program. Existing customers also will be eligible for free speed upgrades.

The hugely important issue of supporting education during the pandemic is getting the attention of the government and private industry.

For instance, earlier this month, the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program invested almost $72 million in 116 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island.

Additional information about the FCC E-Rate funding can be found in this press release.

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