In yesterday's open meeting, the FCC adopted an order that implements the E-rate reforms proposed as part of the agency's implementation of the National Broadband Plan. The most significant reforms that were adopted are:
- Increase in funding by indexing the $2.25 billion to the rate of inflation (resulting in "less than" $25 million in additional funding in the coming year). This increase will be funded by repurposing funding relinquished by competitive "ETCs" exiting the high cost program, as was decided in a decision earlier this month (responding to a petition from Corr Wireless, a copy of which is available here.)
- Existing dark fiber to be funded under the "miscellaneous" category on the Eligible Services List ("ESL") in order to avoid having to categorize dark fiber as either a telecommunications or information service. The initial proposal did not include (at least not explicitly) the requirement that only existing fiber be eligible, and appears to have been added out of concern that e-rate funding would be used for build-out costs.
- Off-campus use of wireless devices to be initially only explored in pilot programs.
- Community, after-hours use of e-rate funded facilities at schools approved, as anticipated.
Commission staff had indicated that they were unlikely to issue the text of the order that day, and it does not appear that the order has been released on the FCC's website yet. In the meantime, the press release and statements of the Chairman and Commissioners are available at: