Today, the FCC issued an Order that waives the E-rate program gift rules through September 30, 2020 to clear the way to allow service providers to offer free or discounted service and equipment to schools and libraries during the COVID-19 emergency.
Specifically the Order permits service providers to offer, and eligible E-Rate schools and libraries to solicit and accept:
- Upgrades to broadband connections or improved capacity (more bandwidth)
- Wi-Fi hotspots/aircards and other connected devices
- Networking gear
- Other things of value that could help students, teachers, and library patrons affected by school and library closures
The Order goes on to state that to the extent service providers are willing to offer free or reduced-cost Internet access service directly to families with school-aged children, rather than to eligible E-Rate schools and libraries on behalf of students, the E-rate gift rules do not apply. In other words, there are no rules that will prohibit a school or library from contacting service providers to ask for their assistance in providing Internet access to students, teachers and library patrons that may not have it at home.
Please let me know if you have any questions. The Order can be found at: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-290A1.pdf
Stay safe, my E-rate family.