"Wi-Fi May Slow, But Low-Income Access Is Key COVID-19 Issue" March 18, 2020
Date: March 18, 2020
Written By: Kelcee Griffis
Excerpt: "On Wednesday, the FCC waived a rule in order to allow E-Rate recipients to accept capacity upgrades and other in-kind 'gifts' from ISPs. [John] Windhausen suggested that the FCC could go a step further and establish a new subsidy program under the FCC's Universal Service Fund umbrella, which generally subsidizes internet and phone connections for consumers, as well as communications infrastructure in hard-to-reach areas via four existing programs.
While some lawmakers have suggested spending E-Rate funds that are typically reserved for schools and libraries on external connectivity projects, Windhausen said those uses would likely get tied up in red tape. Instead, kick-starting a fifth, 'emergency' fund under the USF umbrella could help institutions buy lending hot spots without the complex rules surrounding E-Rate expenditures.
'We really don't have time for' circumnavigating E-Rate rules, he said. 'I think we really need a separate program that would authorize schools and libraries to purchase this equipment without competitive bidding ... and seek reimbursement for those costs afterward.'"