FCC Gift Rule Waiver Makes Progress on COVID-19 Connectivity Issue March 18, 2020
For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. (March 18, 2020) - Today the Federal Communications Commission temporarily waived the gift rule that prohibits Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-rate program participants from accepting free broadband services and devices. The rule change empowers internet service providers (ISPs) to support increased telehealth and remote learning applications during the coronavirus pandemic.
John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, made the following statement:
“The SHLB Coalition applauds the FCC for this timely step in addressing the heightened broadband needs of community anchor institutions. The coronavirus is putting online learning and telemedicine in high demand, meaning that schools, libraries and healthcare providers are using more bandwidth than ever before. With the E-rate and RHC program gift rules waived, ISPs can donate increased capacity and devices like Wi-Fi hotspots to connect students and patients at home. We hope the FCC will continue to be proactive and will explore every opportunity to ensure that all Americans can access healthcare and education services from home during the coronavirus pandemic.”
The SHLB Coalition requested a temporary waiver of the E-rate and RHC gift rule in the letter it sent the FCC yesterday. The letter proposed several immediate actions the Commision should take to ensure those without home broadband access can obtain healthcare and educational services.
The SHLB Coalition is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-quality broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. The SHLB Coalition is based in Washington, D.C. and has a diverse membership of commercial and non-commercial organizations from across the United States. To learn more, visit www.shlb.org.