Thursday, January 8, 2015

ALA Summary on December E-rate Report

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently released its December 2014 E-rate Order after receiving public comments from E-rate participants, providers, and other interested parties. The December Order builds on the July Order to modernize and streamline the schools and libraries universal service support program, also known as the E-rate program. The American Library Association (ALA) released a summary of the order on the major changes to the E-rate program.

The summary of the December Order focuses on the following as stated:
  1. Ensuring all libraries and schools have access to high-speed broadband connectivity.
    • Removing the multi-year amortization requirement for broadband build-out
    • Allowing multi-year payment of capital costs for broadband build-out
    • Equalizing the treatment of lit and dark fiber
    • Allowing construction for applicant-owned fiber
    • Providing greater discounts if states offer matching funds for broadband build-out
    • Ensuring affordable broadband in rural, high-cost areas
  2. Increasing the E-rate fund by $1.5 billion annually.
    • The increase means that the fund will total $3.9 billion annually, plus annual inflationary adjustments
  3. Taking actions to be reasonably certain all applications will be funded.
    • Ensuring certainty for applicants seeking Category 2 services
    • Meeting applicants' needs for Category 1 support
  4. Correcting language in the July Order that defined many rural libraries and schools as "urban," thus reducing their discounts.
    • A library  designated as "rural" or "urban" could mean the difference of 10% discount
    • Urban designation applies to libraries and schools in communities over 25,000 population
More information can be read in the ALA summary and the FCC summary of the December E-rate Order, and on the DPI E-rate web page.

Post written by:
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development Team