April 19, 2018

FCC to Review E-rate Program

By LJ Staff

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has begun a “focused review” of
the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Program (E-rate), which will give
library advocates an opportunity to “get all its concerns on the record,”
according to Claudette Tennant of the American Library Association’s Washington
Office. “There’s the possibility that it might not be positive for the program
or the library community,” said Tennant of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
which requests comments by April 5. “But I feel this is an earnest attempt by
the FCC to make sure the program is working fairly and effectively.”

Reply comments will be due by May 6, and the FCC will then review them and
consider rule changes. Individual libraries have received only three percent of
E-rate funds, though the percentage of libraries receiving support through
consortial applications—which represent 15 percent of E-rate funding—is unclear.
Tennant said ALA would like to see better statistics, as well as new rules that
do not disadvantage consortia. Also, ALA would like to see a better way to
calculate the poverty rate, which influences E-rate discounts.