The FCC is considering a proposal to make the E-rate program’s Category Two budget approach permanent. The approach provided schools and libraries a set amount of funding for five years to support their internal connections. The original five-year period extended from Funding Year (FY) 2015 to FY 2019.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released earlier this month seeks comment on potential modifications that could simplify the Category Two budget, decrease the administrative burden on schools and libraries when applying for Category Two services, and determine how to make the transition to a permanent solution of the budget approach.
Comments on the NPRM are due by August 16, 2019. Reply comments will be accepted until September 3, 2019. The FCC is looking for comments on these items:
- Should applicants who began using their five-year budgets in FY 2015 (whose budgets end in FY 2019), have access to new funding in FY 2020? What if they did not use all of their funding? For existing five-year budgets, should funding be increased if this NPRM provides additional support to Category Two funding?
- Should there be a fresh start in FY 2020 to reset all applicant budgets?
- Should Managed Internal Broadband Services (MIBS) and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections (BMIC) be made permanent Category Two services?
- Should the minimum budget floor be increased and, if so, what should the appropriate budget floor level be to address the needs of smaller entities and increase their participation in the program?
- Should the budget multipliers be adjusted to account for entities that experience higher costs due to geographic locations?
For FY 2020, Category Two funding is still to be decided and will be based on this NRPM. This may result in applicants waiting longer to submit FCC Form 470 requests for Category Two services.
If you have any questions about this E-rate proposal or would like assistance filing comments, please contact Terri DeLong in JSI’s Texas office at 512-338-0473.