FCC commits additional $603 million for school internet connection options

Published 12:02 am Friday, December 24, 2021

SALISBURY – The Federal Communications Commission committed an addition $603 million to its Emergency Connectivity Fund program that supports local school districts.

The latest round of funding is expected to fund programs that will provide internet connections to more than $1.4 million students nationwide. This is the sixth round of commitments made by the federal authority.

Applications for funds were held in two rounds, with $367 million in the latest wave of funding doled out to round one applicants and $236 million to round two applications.

The fund now totals over $3.8 billion and Rowan-Salisbury Schools has been awarded $600,000 of that money, including $243,532 for equipment and $356,700 for the first funding window.

The district used some of its funding through the program to purchase new iPads with cellular connectivity in September. The order was for 500 tablets at $412 each, but the fund covered $400 of the cost of each tablet, so the district only had to pay $6,500 out of pocket for the new equipment. The program specifies the money can not be used to purchase laptops, but can be used for laptop purchases.

Prior to the equipment purchase the district used money from the fund to pay for service costs during the pandemic.

The fund is administrated by the Universal Service Administrative Company under the purview of the FCC.

Libraries and schools qualify for money from the fund if they are eligible for the FCC’s regular universal broadband support programming called E-Rate. The second round of applications closed on Oct. 13. RSS has not received funding for the second application period as of the latest commitment.