The FCC received more than $5 billion in requests for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. Applicants sought money for 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections as part of the $7.17 billion program.
The agency received so much interest it plans to open another filing window. It will be open from September 28 to October 13. Schools and libraries can request funding for connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.
The first filing window closed August 13. It attracted applications from all 50 states, as well as American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Schools and libraries in rural and urban communities sought funding for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.
“The Emergency Connectivity Fund is the single largest effort to bring connectivity and devices to students who lack them – and this robust response from applicants shows the tremendous need in our communities,” said acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. She called the money “an important down payment” in closing the Homework Gap.
In addition to providing funding for the current school year, the second application filing window will include requests that were filed after the initial window closed. The rise of the Delta variant means off-campus connectivity remains vital to ensuring students, school staff, and library patrons can engage in remote learning as they face challenges and uncertainty amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the agency believes.
For the first application filing window, the FCC targeted reviewing and issuing decisions for half of workable applications within 60 days of the window’s close and 70 percent of workable applications within 100 days of the close. The funding is available to buy laptops and tablets, WiFi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons in need; it’s available to support off-campus learning, such as homework, even if schools have returned to full time in-person instruction.
For a state-by-state breakdown of funding demand, click here.