FCC GIVES SCHOOL E-RATE PROGRAMS MORE FLEXIBILITY TO ALLOW COMMUNITY USE OF BROADBAND SERVICES
Federal Communications Commission
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D. C. 20554
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
NEWS MEDIA CONTACTS:
February 18, 2010
Mark Wigfield: 202-418-0253
FCC GIVES SCHOOL E-RATE PROGRAMS MORE FLEXIBILITY TO ALLOW
COMMUNITY USE OF BROADBAND SERVICES
Enabling Off-Hours Public Access to School Networks Spreads Benefit of E-rate at No Cost to
Universal Service Fund
Washington D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission today adopted an order that
enables schools that receive funding from the E-rate program (more formally, the schools and libraries
universal service support program) to allow members of the general public to use the schools’ Internet
access during non-operating hours. This change attracted broad support in comments received while
developing the National Broadband Plan.
This action will leverage universal service funding to serve a larger population at no increased
cost to the E-rate program. If a school chooses to allow community access, the general public will be able
to use the Internet access already present in schools for purposes such as job searches and applications,
digital literacy programs, and online access to governmental services and resources. Increasing
community access to the Internet is particularly critical in communities where residential adoption of
broadband Internet access has historically lagged, including many rural, minority, and Tribal
communities. Libraries already may provide Internet access to their communities using E-rate support.
Today’s order enables schools to provide similar access to the public.
Currently, Commission rules require schools to certify that they will use E-rate funded services
solely for “educational purposes,” defined as activities that are integral, immediate, and proximate to the
education of students. As a result, services and facilities purchased by schools using E-rate funding
remain largely unused during evenings, weekends, school holidays, and summer breaks. Waiving the
relevant rules will maximize the use of facilities and services supported by the E-rate program by giving
schools the option to open their E-rate funded facilities to members of the public during non-operating
The waiver of the Commission’s rules is effective from adoption of the order through funding
year 2010 (which ends June 30, 2011). This waiver is subject to the following conditions: (1) schools
participating in the E-rate program are not permitted to request more services than are necessary for
“educational purposes”; (2) any community use of E-rate funded services at a school facility is limited to
non-operating hours, such as after school hours or during times when the students are out of school; and
(3) consistent with the Communications Act, schools may not resell discounted services or network
capacity. This order and notice do not permit or require any changes to E-rate applications due on
February 19, 2010.
In addition, the Commission adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking, which seeks comment on
revising the Commission’s rules to make today’s change permanent. The Commission also seeks
comment on conditions that should be established to guard against potential additional costs being
imposed on the E-rate program and to reduce the likelihood of waste, fraud, and abuse.
The E-rate program commits $2.25 billion in funding annually to schools and libraries for eligible
telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal
Action by the Commission February 18, 2010, by Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(FCC 10-33). Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker, with
Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, and Clyburn issuing separate statements.
News and information about the Federal Communications Commission is available at www.fcc.gov.
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