HomeAccessFCC adds $64 million to close homework gap with investment in DSL,...

    FCC adds $64 million to close homework gap with investment in DSL, FTTH, satellite and wireless


    Covid was the ill wind that blew in a $7 bn comms infrastructure spend by government.

    The US Federal Communications Commission FCC) has added an extra $63,613,404.33 to its Emergency Connectivity Fund, which supports a programme to close the ‘Homework Gap’ in US schools. The emergency programme had a target to bring 12.5 million pupils online. Meanwhile, the $7 billion project to connect Covid-bound Americans could provide a huge stimulus to US comms infrastructure builders.

    Sixty four million dollar homework question

    This latest increment in the ECF brings the total expense on funding US student connectivity to $4.69 billion since the launch of the programme in June 2021. The FCC says it has committed the money to give 12.5 million students broadband connections and equipment.  This latest round of funding is supporting schools and libraries for students in central Maine, Puerto Rico, Alaska, California and South Carolina.

    “We need all our students connected to reliable and affordable broadband service, no matter where they live,” said chairwoman Rosenworcel.  “The Emergency Connectivity Fund is helping to achieve that goal, providing online access to thousands of schools and libraries across the country.” 

    Off campus learning

    The funding can be used to support homework and ‘off campus learning’ for students that don’t have the necessary support to keep up with their education. So far it has paid for 10 million connected devices and 5 million broadband connections. Today’s announcement includes $33 million in commitments from Window 1 applications and nearly $31 million in commitments from Window 2 applications.

    The ECF is a $7.17 billion programme to help schools and libraries support remote learning during the Covid-19 emergency period. The aim is to provide relief to millions of students, school staff and library patrons. The organisers say there is a Homework Gap for students in the world’s richest nation because millions of students can’t get access to the devices they need let alone connect to the Internet.

    Is Covid over?

    For eligible schools and libraries, the ECF Program will cover reasonable costs of laptop and tablet computers. It will also invest in the communications infrastructure with through broadband connectivity purchases and funding for kit such as modems and routers for Wi-Fi hotspots. 

    The programme could stimulate business for US service providers. According to the Eligible Services List stipulated within the programme, which specifies that funds can be spent on “Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), leased Lit Fiber (fiber to the home), satellite and Wireless (such as fixed wireless, microwave, or mobile broadband)”.

    Check your eligibility

    Service providers are advised to check the current funding commitment information. Congress authorised the Emergency Connectivity Fund as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Eligibility is policed through the E-Rate Program and libraries eligible for support under the Library Services and Technology Act may request and receive support through the Emergency Connectivity Fund.