On July 20, 2023, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took a significant step towards enhancing access to funding for Tribal libraries and other E-Rate participants. This order is designed to streamline the process of obtaining cost-effective, high-speed broadband services and equipment, benefiting students and library visitors alike by connecting them to valuable online educational resources. Tribal libraries now have the opportunity to participate in the E-Rate program, expanding their eligibility for these essential benefits.
The FCC also changed to provide greater access to the E-Rate program for Tribal communities and other E-Rate participants. Some of the details include the following:
- It grants E-Rate eligibility to Tribal College and University libraries that serve as their community’s public libraries.
- Libraries seeking E-Rate support for Category 2 services that cost $3,600 or less per library per year for broadband connectivity within schools will be exempted from competitive bidding requirements.
- The Tribal libraries can now benefit from a maximum Category 2 discount rate of 90% and a budget floor of $55,000. These discounts apply to internal connections required for broadband connectivity within schools.
- Establish a formal definition of “Tribal” in the E-Rate program.
- Proposing the inclusion of a Tribal community representative on the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).
- Request that USAC provide more outreach and training opportunities to Tribal applicants.
- Guidance on cost allocation issues
On July 21, 2023, the FCC took further steps to enhance Tribal applicants’ access to the E-Rate program.
on July 20, 2023, Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Geoffrey Starks issued separate statements.
February 16, 2023, coordinates efforts to encourage greater Tribal participation in the E-Rate program.