E-Rate

Overview
A team of leading telecommunications lawyers in Washington, DC, is working with the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) to develop recommendations for changing the federal E-Rate program so that more libraries receive more discounts on telephone and internet costs. Reed Hundt, who developed E-Rate as chair of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, is now one of the attorneys advising ULC on how to adjust the program to fit a shifting digital landscape... Read more >>

FCC Chairman Wheeler Announces Plan to Increase E-Rate Funding
November 19, 2014
On Monday, November 17, 2014, FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler announced his plan to take the next step in the E-rate modernization process. Wheeler’s proposal outlines a plan to increase the annual E-rate cap by $1.5 billion, increasing the budget from $2.4 to 3.9 billion. According to the FCC, the increase would allow for greater investment in high-speed network infrastructure, particularly fiber optic cabling, to meet the demands of expanding Wi-Fi connectivity in libraries and schools. The improved data infrastructure would increase high speed access in rural and low income communities that struggle to support the demands of modern connectivity and bandwidth goals. The growth will be a combination of payments for costly one-time non-recurring infrastructure upgrades and increasing monthly recurring charges for Internet access. The FCC believes this will increase each phone bill by just less than $2 per year. To learn more about the proposal, read this blog post from FCC Managing Director Jon Wilkins. The blog includes links to an E-rate Data Update and press fact sheet.

ULC Research Research on E-Rate Filed with FCC
September 24, 2014 
Last week, ULC filed new research on large library systems with the FCC. The report shows the largest 5% (by size or by usage) of library systems support 63% of total Wi-Fi users in public libraries. For these large systems, square footage alone is not an equitable predictor of Wi-Fi costs.The study, commissioned by ULC and undertaken by a Stanford University researcher, is based on data collected by the Institute of Museum and Library Services on public libraries and has been shared with them.

ULC is urging the FCC to better understand not just the largest public library systems, but the needs across all public libraries - urban, suburban, towns and rural communities. In addition to the research, our filing asks the FCC to consider what is needed to create an E-Rate system that serves all libraries no matter size or location. 

ULC strongly believes equitable access to adequate E-Rate funds across all types of public libraries is essential to building healthy communities across the United States. Read the letter (PDF) from Susan Benton, ULC president and CEO, that was part of the filing.

Governor Pens Letter to Obama Urging E-Rate Support
September 24, 2014 
Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy recently wrote President Obama to thank him and the FCC for the recent order involving the modernization of E-Rate.

In regards to the upcoming FCC proceeding, Malloy noted that E-rate is a "topic of equality and opportunity." Further, Malloy wrote, "My goal for Connecticut is to ensure that robust Internet access is available to every student and teacher in every school and to every person in every library. Internet access in our schools and libraries should be as reliable and fast as in businesses and homes on the leading edge of Internet connectivity. Specifically, I would like to see one gigabit per second connectivity to every school and library building, and at least five megabit per second Wi-Fi connectivity in every room in these buildings at time of peak use.

Malloy adds, "In addition, I would like to see every school and library connected to each other, so that they can share digitized material." Read the letter here (PDF).

ULC, ALA and Other Groups Sign Joint Letter to Chairman Wheeler
Read the joint letter here>>
July 16, 2014
ULC and several organizations joined together to help guide the FCC in its E-Rate moderization effort formula. Those joining ULC, were the American Library Associaton, The Association for Rural & Small Libraries,  the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, and the Public Library Association.

ULC Urges FCC to Ensure Universal Broadband for Public Libraries
ULC e-Rate Letter to FCC >>
Document A: Library Systems Consist of Urban, Suburban and Rural Libraries >>
June 9, 2014
As the process to modernize the U.S. E-Rate program continues, ULC has submitted a letter to the FCC underscoring two critical points. The first, “Public Libraries = Education” affirms the essential role of the library as a 21st century educational institution and points out that libraries have been the fundamental “go-to” institution in recent years for job seekers of all ages and occupations. The second point, “Connectivity for All Public Libraries – No Matter the Location,” emphasizes that all public libraries require immediate and comprehensive support in acquiring broadband connectivity.

ULC Members Urge E-Rate Fixes to Ensure Digital Access
Press Release >>
ULC Member Letter to FCC
>>
May 21, 2014
Members of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) have called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to level the E-Rate playing field to enhance public libraries’ access to funds that will help provide a digital future for all Americans.

FCC E-Rate Modernization Workshop
Podcast (04:34:10) >>
May 11, 2014

If you were unable to attend or live stream this event in DC, we encourage our public library colleagues to listen in and continue the E-Rate conversation.

ULC Recommendation/Filing
ULC Filing # 4 >>

April 21, 2014
ULC submitted its reply to the FCC on E-Rate. A two page summary at the beginning of this document provides a snapshot of ULC's comments.

IMLS Hearing on Modernizing E-Rate
FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler >>

Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt >>

April 17, 2014

IMLS hosted a public hearing, “Libraries and Broadband: Urgency and Impact,” to examine the need for high-speed broadband in America’s libraries. Current Federal Communications Commission Chairman Thomas Wheeler and Reed Hundt, former FCC Chairman, offered persuasive analyses of what needs to be done to modernize the nation’s E-Rate program so that all citizens have equitable access to technology as a means of education and productive lives. The Benton Foundation distilled their presentations into these cogent summaries that can be used as talking points for local and national advocacy efforts.

ULC Recommendation/Filing
ULC Filing #3 >>

April 7, 2014
ULC submitted a filing to the Federal Communications Commission with refined recommendations for strengthening the U.S. E-Rate program so that public libraries remain “the primary free public Internet access point in civil society.”

ULC E-Rate Fact Sheet
Modernizing the E-Rate Program >>
February 2014

ULC E-Rate White Paper
Modernizing the E-Rate Program to Support the Public Library Role in Lifelong Learning >>
February 2014

Connected_CommNew America Foundation Forum Podcast
Co-sponsored by Urban Libraries Council
Connected Communities in the Age of Digital Learning:
A Vision for a 21st century E-Rate Program >>

Podcast published February 27, 2014 (run time 01:38:17)

Politico Pro, an online news magazine
Libraries Angle for Bigger Role in E-Rate >>
Article by Caitlin Emma
12/02/13 5:05 AM EST