Federal A Washington Roundup

FCC Starts Review of E-Rate Program

By Andrew Trotter — July 12, 2005 1 min read

The Federal Communications Commission is studying a raft of potential changes to the $2.25 billion E-rate discount program, which helps schools afford telecommunications and Internet access. The program has been dogged for several years in Congress by controversy over whether it is prone to waste and fraud.

The review is part of the FCC’s broader examination of the federal “universal-service fund,” which provides subsidies for telecommunications used by rural health services, and for phone service in rural areas and among poor households, as well as the education-rate program.

Anyone may file comments with the FCC addressing nearly 100 topics described in the proposed federal rule, adopted June 9. The topics include management of the universal-service-fund programs; simplification and streamlining, including through a proposed multiyear application for E-rate discounts; better ways to guard against abuse; and ways of giving applicants more certainty about whether they will receive discounts.

The commission will accept comments at www.fcc.gov until 90 days after the review process is announced in the Federal Register, which had not happened as of late last week. It will accept replies to comments for an additional 60 days.

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