How would you spend $7 billion to narrow digital divide?
Superintendents, CIOs and other district leaders can share ideas on how communities will spend $7 billion from the American Rescue Plan to boost connectivity for students and staff.
The Federal Communications Commission is now accepting public comment on distribution of the $7.171 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund contained in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.
The funding will allow schools and libraries to purchase equipment and services that students, school staff, and library patrons can use to access the internet from home or other off-site locations, the FCC says.
Using the E-rate program, the FCC will reimburse districts and libraries for 100% of the costs of purchasing equipment such as Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and connected devices. The funds can also be used to secure advanced telecommunications and information services.
Read the FCC’s public notice requesting comments on the Emergency Connectivity Fund.
Funds for Learning, an E-rate consulting firm, has already weighed in, saying any policies must be fair, flexible, fast and fiscally responsible.
The organization recommends the FFC:
- Define eligible services broadly and streamline competitive bidding requirements
- Provide flexibility for schools and libraries to extend wireless networks
- Support all components remote learners might need by relying on budget cap
- Create a two-track application process that leverages the existing E-rate system
- Give special consideration and reserve funds for extraordinary circumstances
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