The Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy and the Wireline Competition Bureau held a listening session for Tribal leaders, staff, and outreach partners to inform participants about the Commission's efforts to increase Tribal libraries' participation in the E-Rate Program.
Participants discussed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted on October 1, 2021, which proposes to update the definition of libraries in its rules to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible to participate in the Commission's E-Rate program. The NPRM also solicits input on other steps the Commission could take to encourage and support Tribal schools and libraries' participation in the E-Rate Program.
The E-Rate Program provides financial support to ensure schools and libraries can obtain affordable, high-speed broadband services and internal connections to connect today's students and library patrons with next-generation learning opportunities and services. Some Tribal libraries have been unable to receive support from the program, however, because they do not meet the current definition of a library in the Commission’s rules.
The session started with an overview of the NPRM, followed Tribal participants questions and informal feedback. The Commission was particularly interested in getting suggestions from Tribal participants on how to increase awareness of the E-Rate Program among Tribal governments and institutions so more Tribal schools and libraries can sign up to receive the benefits of the E-Rate program.
Commission staff will prepare a written summary of the input received during the listening session and enter it into the public record for this proceeding. In addition, interested parties may submit written comments at any time in the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System or request an individual meeting with Commission staff. NPRM Comments are due November 15, 2021 and reply comments are due November 29, 2021 in CC Docket No. 02-6.
For questions about the listening session or the NPRM more generally, please contact Lloyd Collier at Lloyd.Collier@fcc.gov.