E-Rate | News

E-Rate Requests Cross $5 Billion Threshold

Schools and libraries increased the funding demands placed on the FCC's E-Rate program, asking for more than $5 billion for infrastructure and telecommunications improvements for Funding Year 2012, according to consulting and compliance firm Funds For Learning.

This year, requests for funding topped the $5 billion mark for only the second time. Requests for discounts on certain communications services increased for the fourth straight year. Funds For Learning cited growing need for bandwidth and internet services as reasons for the spiked demand.

As part of a prepared statement, Brian Stephens, an analyst at Funds For Learning, said it "should not come as a surprise" that the demand E-Rate-related services continued to increase. He also voiced concern about the amount of requested funding in relation to the amount of available funding.

Each year, the E-Rate program, also known as the Schools and Libraries Program of the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund, provides around $2.3 billion annually in discounts on certain services and products for schools and libraries, less than half of the total requested amount for 2012.

In anticipation of the high demand for E-Rate funds, John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning, penned an open letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski requesting that the commission increase the available funding in the E-Rate program. The firm is still looking for supporters for the petition in advance of its delivery to the FCC in late 2012.

"The increasing demand demonstrates the value of the program and that many schools and libraries are relying on this funding to continue or execute their technology goals," said Cathy Cruzan, president of Funds For Learning in the statement. "However, with the annual funding cap remaining virtually static since 1998, it is concerning that securing the needed funds will be increasingly difficult moving forward."

About the Author

Stephen Noonoo is an education technology journalist based in Los Angeles. He is on Twitter @stephenoonoo.