Updates on E-rate modernization from Doug Levin, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) on the forthcoming Public Notice that will be issued from the Wireline Bureau of the FCC re: E-rate modernization.
1. Expect that the Public Notice will be released at or around the end of February 2014. Expect a 30-day comment period, followed by a 15-day ‘reply to’ period. The soonest FCC action could be taken on the Public Notice would be May, but most likely in June or July 2014.
2. The Public Notice will ask for input on a limited set of ideas, but not all issues that remain under consideration. SETDA anticipates that the Public Notice will solicit ideas about how to help schools shift from legacy broadband technologies to more robust types of external internet connections:
- how to re-structure the program to better ensure robust internal-to-school connectivity (such as WiFi) in all schools,
- how to treat voice service in a modernized program, and
- how to best provide technical assistance to schools/districts that lack the capacity to do their own network assessments and long-range planning.
SETDA also expects to see some specific ideas and questions about how to trial program improvements that are already well-established in the record.
SETDA does NOT anticipate it will include information about the need for new money (i.e., raising the cap temporarily or permanently), for the treatment of dark fiber under the program, or about the sufficiency of the overall discount matrix.
3. SETDA confirmed that any new E-rate funding from program efficiencies and other sources will NOT be made available to schools until next year’s funding cycle, which means that it would be available for the first time for the 2015-16 school year – not before. That new money would flow under new program rules enacted via the Public Notice process.
SETDA is watching this very closely, and I will be sure to let everyone know when the Public Notice is out. Once SETDA has had a chance to review it, they will facilitate information sharing across states and in all likelihood launch a process to develop and file comments on behalf of SETDA.
We are all very excited to see the continued federal momentum on an issue of key significance to SETDA, its members, and the educational technology community in general.
For more information about State Educational Technology Directors Association, please visit www.SETDA.org.