The Federal Communications Commission has announced that applications for the E-Rate Deployed Ubiquitously (EDU2011) program, a pilot program intended to investigate the “merits and challenges” of off-premises wireless connectivity for mobile learning, must be submitted on or before December 17, 2010. The FCC has authorized $10 million for a one-year pilot program. The Commission anticipates that EDU2011 funding will be provided only to schools and libraries with wireless broadband projects that have already been planned (but may be awaiting funding) or are currently underway. The funding will not support end-user equipment, such as laptops, but is intended to be used to provide the connectivity necessary to provide students or library patrons with off-premises broadband Internet access through the use of portable wireless devices.

In addition to submitting an EDU2011 application, interested parties must also apply for E-Rate funding for their programs through the FCC’s regular rules. The Commission has waived the competitive bidding requirements for the pilot program. The Wireline Competition Bureau will select the successful applications for the program. After the one-year trial period, participants will be required to submit a report to the Bureau describing in detail any data collected as a result of the program and a narrative describing lessons learned from the program. These reports are intended to assist other schools and libraries desiring to adopt similar programs in the future.

The Commission’s Order establishing EDU 2011, Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism, A National Broadband Plan For Our Future, CC Docket No. 02-6, GN Docket No. 09-51, Sixth Report and Order, FCC 10-175 (rel. Sept. 28, 2010), is available on the FCC’s website. The Commission’s press release, establishing the December 17, 2010 deadline is available here.