The Federal Communications Commission recently invited public comment on a proposal to establish an aggregate cap on the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) and to rank-order the four USF programs relative to each other, including the E-rate program. E-rate - and the three other independent USF programs that serve farms, rural clinics, and low income Americans - already have program level budget caps. The new cap proposed could serve as the basis for reallocating resources among the four district USF programs, which could cause recurring funding shortfalls for the E-rate program and disrupt long-term district broadband infrastructure planning. Educators can access CoSN's filing in this proceeding here.
How can school districts help?
CoSn recommends that ed tech leaders communicate their concerns about a new aggregate cap, and a related proposal to merge the program-level caps for the E-rate and Rural Health Care programs.
District leaders can participate in the rule making using the FCC's "Express Comment" system, by completing the following steps:
Comments must be filed no later than: August 26th.
- Click here to visit the FCC's Express Comment webpage.
- Enter the following "Proceeding Number" in the top field and hit return: 06-122
- Provide your contact information in the other fields.
- Use the following talking points, using your own words, to complete the "Brief Comments" field:
- As an education technology leader, I oppose the FCC's proposal to establish and aggregate cap on the Universal Service Fund, including the E-rate program
- My school district depends on the E-rate to help connect students to broadband. The program's existing cap ensures E-rate's fiscal integrity. Creating a new overarching USF cap, along with prioritizing the USF programs, will only serve to pit the E-rate and other USF programs against each other, to the detriment of students and other consumers who are often on the wrong side of the digital divide.
- I strongly encourage the Commission to abandon this USF caps proposal and instead focus on strengthening the E-rate for future generations of students.