The Federal Communications Commission recently announced its agenda for the next Open Commission Meeting, scheduled for Thursday, December 11th. The first item on the Commission’s agenda will be an update to the E-rate program. At the Open Meeting, the Commissioners will consider a Second Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration in the E-rate docket (WC Docket No. 13-184).
Through the Second Report and Order, the Commission is expected to raise the current $2.4 billion E-rate cap by $1.5 billion. Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Rosenworcel both believe the increase is long overdue since (other than a recent inflation adjustment) no new funding has been added to the program since the creation of the Universal Service Fund.
Raising the E-rate cap was an issue considered in the Commission’s July’s E-rate Modernization Order which aimed to close the Wi-Fi gap by creating a $1 billion annual target for promoting broadband development and encouraging digital learning in the nation’s schools and libraries. The Modernization Order also sought to increase the transparency and efficiency of the E-rate program. At the time, the Commission deferred the issue of the cap, but the Republican members decried an alleged “secret deal” to raise the cap in December.
The Commission’s meeting will be held at 445 12th Street, S.W., at 10:30 a.m. in Room TW-C305. For more details on the July E-rate Order, check out our Study Guide. The FCC also prepared a Fact Sheet and an E-rate Data Update with additional information about the program. We will post an update after the Commission’s action.