Emergency Connectivity Fund Rules Provide Opportunities and Obstacles for Homework Gap May 11, 2021
For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. (May 11, 2021) - Today the Federal Communications Commission shared the rules for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a $7 billion program to help schools and libraries connect students and patrons to home broadband during the coronavirus pandemic.
John Windhausen, executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, made the following statement:
“The SHLB Coalition congratulates the FCC for moving quickly to establish the Emergency Connectivity Fund. The shift in focus to prospective funding provides clear evidence of the Commission’s commitment to ensuring students and library patrons have affordable broadband access going forward. We are pleased that the Commission adopted some SHLB recommendations, such as simplifying the application process and pledging to open a new application window in the near future. Unfortunately, the ECF Program rules do not give schools and libraries as much flexibility as they deserve to implement creative and cost-effective solutions to reduce the digital divide in their communities. Nonetheless, the FCC’s Order makes great progress in making affordable broadband available to everyone, and the SHLB Coalition remains dedicated to ensuring the program’s success.”
The SHLB Coalition previously filed comments in the FCC’s WC Docket No. 21-93 with several recommendations for the ECF, including that the FCC should 1) avoid excessive regulation of school and library purchasing decisions; 2) allow schools and libraries to make their own decisions about which services and equipment best suit their needs; 3) adopt budget caps; 4) waive or eliminate the cost allocation rule; 5) make consortia of schools and libraries eligible; 6) make a broad range of equipment eligible – including cybersecurity services; and 7) not limit the locations to which schools and libraries may deploy services. See the full list of recommendations here.
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.