The Federal Communications Commission has adopted an order aimed at maximizing the value of Internet access deployed to schools and supported through the Universal Service Fund’s $2.25 billion E-rate program. Schools now will have the option of allowing the general public to use USF-funded Internet connectivity after regular school hours and during times when school is not in session.
Previously, FCC rules required schools to certify that E-rate funded services would be used strictly for “educational purposes.”
The FCC waiver will be in effect through June 30, 2011. Schools will not be allowed to request more services than are necessary for educational purposes, nor may they resell discounted services or network capacity.
The FCC also has adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at making the change permanent.
The move came within a week after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the National Broadband Plan due from the FCC in mid-March would include improvements to the E-rate program.