As we told you this morning, the FCC launched its rulemaking proceeding to consider reforms to the Schools and Libraries program of its Universal Service Fund (better known as the "E-rate" program). The FCC pledged a comprehensive review and modernization of the E-rate program that will mark the most significant reexamination of E-rate policies in the program’s 16 year history. In the presentation and individual Commissioner statements at the meeting, there was a clear consensus to refocus the types of services funded by the E-rate program toward broadband capacity and “advanced educational technologies” while also phasing out support for some services. In addition, the rulemaking will seek input on ways to reduce the administrative burdens of the E-rate program.
Broadband service providers and providers of Wi-Fi and other internal networking solutions could substantially benefit from this reform. In addition, VoIP providers, unified communications providers and distance learning/video conferencing providers could gain from some of the proposals discussed.
A summary of the rulemaking proposals is available in Kelley Drye’s Client Advisory on the rulemaking. We also are posting the FCC Public Notice and a Fact Sheet relating to the proposals. Additional information will be available when the FCC releases the text of its order, which was not available as of close of business on Friday. We intend to update this blog as more information becomes available.