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FCC Seeks Comment on Changes to Federal E-Rate Program that Would Facilitate Broadband Deployment

November 9, 2009

On November 3, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") released its Public Notice requesting comment on, among other issues, changes to the schools and libraries universal service support mechanism ("E-Rate Program") to improve broadband deployment to meet the instructional and informational needs of public schools and libraries. The Public Notice is part of the FCC's ongoing proceeding to develop a comprehensive National Broadband Plan, as directed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With particular regard to the E-Rate Program, the Public Notice seeks data, reports and case studies addressing its detailed inquiries on:

  • E-Rate Program Modifications: Whether the FCC can implement modifications to the E-Rate Program to more effectively meet the needs of E-Rate funding beneficiaries, and to stimulate the global adoption of broadband services within communities, including but not limited to: (i) modifications to the current classes of E-Rate Program eligible services and users; and (ii) modifications to current programmatic rules and policies that have the effect of deterring certain requests for the funding of broadband products and services.
  • E-Rate Program Disbursement: Whether the FCC can implement modifications to the current E-Rate Program disbursement and distribution methodology that would maximize the deployment of broadband services, and whether (and to what extent) current E-Rate Program rules have may have inhibited the development or expansion of state, regional or local broadband networks.
  • E-Rate Funding: Whether, and to what extent modifications to E-Rate Program funding rules, including expansion of the current E-Rate Program funding cap, would increase the amount of E-Rate Program funds available for broadband technologies, and improve the ability of the E-Rate Program to meet the broadband needs of funding beneficiaries.

The deadline for filing comments in response to this Public Notice is November 20, 2009, and the deadline for filing reply comments is December 11, 2009.