The FCC is seeking additional comments on particular issues relating to the E-rate subsidy program for services used by schools and libraries, including (1) how best to focus E-rate funds on high-capacity broadband, especially high-speed Wi-Fi and internal connections; (2) whether and how the FCC should begin to phase out support for traditional voice services to focus more funding on broadband; and (3) whether there are demonstration projects or experiments that would help test new, innovative ways to maximize cost-effective purchasing in the E-rate program. Comments should be filed by April 7, 2014, and reply comments by April 21, 2014.
It also seeks comment on deployment of last-mile connections to eligible schools; measures that can be taken to encourage cost effective purchasing, for example, through consortia or other bulk purchasing programs; and how best to minimize administrative burdens associated with applying for and receiving E-rate support.
The FCC seeks comment on options to reduce support for voice services as schools and libraries transition to more cost-effective VoIP services, including:
In addition, the FCC seeks comment on how to end support for internal connections used for voice services and whether and how to continue to provide support for voice services in remote rural areas or Tribal lands.
Finally, the FCC seeks comment on providing limited funding for well-defined, time-limited demonstration projects or experiments that provide innovative approaches to maximizing cost-efficient use of E-rate funding (e.g., to evaluate cost effectiveness of bulk purchasing or linking last-mile infrastructure to BTOP funded networks, among others) and how to select such proposals.
This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.