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Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Comment on SEDTA Petition

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Released: June 21, 2012


Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th St., S.W.


Washington, D.C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

DA 12-983

Release Date: June 21, 2012





CC Docket No. 02-6

Comment Date: July 23, 2012
Reply Comment Date: August 6, 2012

The Wireline Competition Bureau seeks comment on a petition filed by the State Educational
Technology Directors Association (SETDA) asking for clarification on the use of funding from the E-rate
program (more formally known as the schools and libraries universal service support program) for remote
access by teachers and students to virtual private networks (VPNs).1 Under the E-rate program, schools
can only receive discounts on eligible services used primarily for educational purposes.2 The
Commission established a presumption that activities that occur on school property qualify as
“educational purposes” under the E-rate program.3 At the same time, the Commission recognized that
there are certain limited off-site activities that are integral, immediate, and proximate to the education of
students, and therefore can be funded under the E-rate program because they serve an educational
purpose.4 To the extent a school (or library) seeks to purchase services or facilities that would otherwise

1 Letter from Douglas Levin, Executive Director, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), to
Marlene Dortch, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, CC Docket 02-6 (filed May 9,
2012) (Petition). SETDA describes itself as the principal association of state and territorial educational technology
2 47 U.S.C. § 254 (h)(1)(B) (noting that discounted services are to be provided to schools and libraries for
educational purposes); 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.503(c)(2)(v), 54.504(a)(1)(vii) (requiring applicants to certify that services
obtained through discounts from the E-rate program will be used primarily for educational purposes). In the Schools
and Libraries Second Report and Order
, the Commission amended the definition of “educational purpose” to clarify
that, in the case of schools, “educational purposes” are “activities that are integral, immediate, and proximate to the
education of students.” 47 C.F.R. § 54.500(b); see also Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support
, CC Docket 02-6, Second Report and Order and Further NPRM, 18 FCC Rcd 9202, 9208, paras. 17-18
(2003) (Schools and Libraries Second Report and Order).
3 47 C.F.R. § 54.500(b); Schools and Libraries Second Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 9208, para. 17.
4 Schools and Libraries Second Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 9208-09, paras. 17, 19. The Commission
provided examples of off-site activities that would be considered integral, immediate, and proximate to the
education of students, such as a teacher or other school staff member’s use of wireless telecommunications services
while on a field trip with school children. Id. at para. 19, n28.

be eligible for E-rate support,5 but are not primarily used for educational purposes, the school or library
must reduce its funding request by the amount of the ineligible use.6
SETDA asks the Commission to clarify that remote access by students and teachers to schools’
networks and resources is an educational purpose under the E-rate program.7 Specifically, SETDA
requests that the Commission clarify that the use of VPNs, the most likely way students and teachers
would remotely access a school’s network from home or off-campus location, is an educational purpose
under E-rate rules.8 VPNs have been eligible for support as a Priority 2 service.9 Granting SETDA’s
petition would clarify that schools that provide off-campus users with access to their VPN primarily for
educational purposes are not required to cost-allocate the portion of their VPN use that occurs as a result
of those off-campus users. According to SETDA, this clarification should not be “construed to support
the expansion of the E-rate program to cover the cost of any such off-campus access or any mandates on
schools that may not currently have a need for such services.”10 SETDA argues that such a rule
clarification would benefit students and schools by (1) allowing students to access digital content,
services, and school-related files on a school network in the evenings and over the weekend; (2)
permitting school-owned devices used outside of school to take advantage of school network content
filtering; and (3) giving schools the ability to track student preferences for educational resources and give
insights into individual student experiences with online educational content.11
Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission’s rules, 47 CFR §§ 1.415, 1.419,
interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first
page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing
System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).

Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the

5 Some services and equipment, such as end user equipment, are not eligible for E-rate support despite the fact that
they may be used for educational purposes. See, e.g., USAC web site, Schools and Libraries Universal Support
Mechanism Eligible Services List for Funding Year 2012, dated Sept. 28, 2011, (last visited June 20, 2012)
at 6, 10-11, 18-20 (2012 ESL).
6 47 C.F.R. § 54.504(e).
7 Petition at 1.
8 Id.
9 The ESL for funding year 2012 defines VPN as data protection components that use encryption and/or tunneling
services in order to provide highly secure communication over the public Internet or, in some cases, over point-to-
point links. 2012 ESL at 13, 48. VPNs are eligible for funding as Priority 2 internal connections. Under the
Commission's rules, first priority for E-rate funding is given to requests for telecommunications services,
telecommunications, and Internet access (Priority 1 services) before available remaining funds are allocated to
requests for support for internal connections and basic maintenance of internal connections (Priority 2 services). See
47 C.F.R. §54.507(g).
10 Petition at 1.
11 Id. at 1-2.

Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each
filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding,
filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-
class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary
must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW, Room TW-A325,
Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries
must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be
disposed of before entering the building.

Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority
Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.

U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities
(braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to or call the
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).
The proceeding this Notice initiates shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in
accordance with the Commission’s ex parte rules.12 Persons making ex parte presentations must file a
copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two
business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies).
Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation
must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte
presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the
presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments
already reflected in the presenter’s written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the
presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or
other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be
found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission
staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed
consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has
made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing
oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment
filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt,
searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission’s ex

12 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.1200 et seq.

For further information, please contact James Bachtell, Telecommunications Access Policy
Division, Wireline Competition Bureau at (202) 418-7400 or TTY (202) 418-7385.
- FCC -

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