The FCC has announced $63,613,404.33 in awards in the 11th wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) commitments. This wave will support students and library patrons in central Maine, Puerto Rico, Alaska, California and South Carolina.
The fund was created to fund broadband connectivity and devices to support off campus learning, such as doing homework, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECF was created by the American Rescue Plan Act and is administered by libraries and schools. It began making commitments in June 2021.
So far, the ECF has committed almost $4.69 billion of the $7.17 billion for which it is budgeted. It has made commitments in the 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and the District of Columbia
The program has provided more than 12.5 million students with broadband connections and equipment. The 11th wave announcement includes commitments from Window 1 (more than $33 million) and Window 2 (almost $31 million).
“We need all our students connected to reliable and affordable broadband service, no matter where they live,” FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel said in a press release about the FCC Emergency Connectivity Fund awards. “The Emergency Connectivity Fund is helping to achieve that goal, providing online access to thousands of schools and libraries across the country. I’m proud of the progress this program is making.”
It’s been a busy year for the program. Late last month, the ECF program awarded $86 million to support more than 350 schools, 29 libraries, and 8 consortia. These entities will receive support for more than 239,000 connected devices and more than 96,000 broadband connections.
At the same time, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau extended the deadline for use of ECF funds by a year. The new deadline is June 30, 2023.
Earlier in the month, the FCC announced a $30 million library award, the largest made to date by the program. It went to the Harris County Public Library in Harris County, Texas. The county includes Houston. The library system will provide residents with 15,000 Chromebooks and 40,000 T-Mobile 5G MiFi hotspots with unlimited data on T-Mobile’s 5G network.