FCC Plan Supports Hiking Internet Access By Schools, Libraries

Idea is that schools and libraries can serve as “anchor institutions” for their communities
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeks to upgrade the access to the Internet by schools and libraries to better serve students by providing those institutions more flexibility to select and make available the most cost-effective broadband services.

On Dec. 3, 2010 the FCC posted a Federal Register notice—Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism and A National Broadband Plan for Our Future—that facilitates “another step toward realizing the National Broadband Plan’s (NBP) vision of improving connectivity to schools and libraries by upgrading and modernizing the successful E-rate program.”

The notice says schools and libraries can serve as “anchor institutions” for their communities and certain areas may depend on those anchor institutions to achieve the NBP’s goal of affordable access to broadband of at least “1 gigabit per second” in every community in the country.

The reason for ensuring schools and libraries have access to broadband is that they are “an essential tool to help educators, parents, and students meet challenges in education and life-long learning.” In addition, “through broadband, librarians can assist library patrons to improve skills for jobs, apply for employment, or access government resources.”

Several strategies are detailed in the plan. Those details include:

  • • Retention of the “competitive bidding process” and “waiting period” for all service requests “even where applicants are subject to state or local procurement obligations” because the bidding and waiting process provide “transparency” for those programs.
  • • The process for the disposal of obsolete equipment no sooner than five-years after the equipment was installed.
  • • The codification of bidding rules that seek to improve the “safeguards against waste, fraud and abuse.”

For more information on the regulation, contact Regina Brown, Wireline Competition Bureau, Telecommunications Access Policy Division at (202) 418-0792.