Today, by a 3-2 vote along party lines, the FCC approved an Order adopting further modernization of the E-Rate Program. At this point, only a News Release has been issued. Highlights of the Order include:
- increasing the annual spending cap on the E-Rate program from $2.4 to $3.9 Billion;
- suspending the requirement that applicants seek funding for up-front construction costs over several years and allowing applicants to pay up-front construction costs over several years;
- equalizing the program’s treatment of dark and lit fiber;
- allowing funding for schools and libraries so these entities may build high-speed broadband facilities themselves;
- providing an incentive for state support of broadband facilities through a match of E-Rate of up to 10% of construction costs;
- requiring carriers that receive High Cost USF funds to offer broadband to schools and libraries in areas receiving High Cost subsidies at rates reasonably comparable to services offered in urban areas; and
- expanding budgeting for internal connections through funding year 2019.