Monday, 14 June 2021

FCC approves $7.17bn broadband fund

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Tuesday 11 May 21

The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program aims to help schools and libraries across the country provide students and teachers with connected devices and access to the internet

On Monday the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved the final rules implementing the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The FCC currently estimates that as many as 17 million children in the US do not have the broadband access required for remote learning, leaving them at a major disadvantage throughout the coronavirus crisis and beyond…

On Monday the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved the final rules implementing the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.

The FCC currently estimates that as many as 17 million children in the US do not have the broadband access required for remote learning, leaving them at a major disadvantage throughout the coronavirus crisis and beyond. As a result, this new Program aims to provide schools and libraries with laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity to alleviate the connectivity burden.

The rules define the equipment and services, service locations, eligible uses, and reasonable support amounts covered by the program.

This announcement follows a similar $3.2 billion Covid-19 relief fund set up back in Februrary, which aimed to subsidise broadband expenses for millions of low-income households throughout the US. Households will be able to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit beginning on the 12th of May, potentially entitling them to a $50 per month subsidy.

“Far too often, students, teachers, and library patrons lack the access they need to broadband and connected devices. This need has become even more apparent during these unprecedented times,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the FCC. “Between this Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, we are investing more than $10 billion in American students and households. These investments will help more Americans access online education, healthcare, and employment resources. They will help close the Homework Gap for students nationwide and give so many more households the ability to connect, communicate, and more fully participate in modern life.”

For acting chair of the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, this focus on broadband for children and the Homework Gap has long been a priority and it is hoped that the Emergency Connectivity Fund will have a significant impact on reducing child broadband inequality across the US.

 

 

The fund is a key element in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

 

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