The FCC announced today that its Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis will hold a workshop on May 20, 2015 beginning at 1:00 p.m. to discuss several changes to the E-rate rules that facilitate construction of fiber networks by schools and libraries. In the past, multiple E-rate rules limited the use of E-rate funding for construction costs, and prohibited schools and libraries from owning wide area network facilities. The FCC’s Second E-rate Modernization Order introduced multiple rule changes that make the construction of fiber networks by schools and libraries possible in certain circumstances. For example, it authorized for the first time the use of E-rate funding to pay for the electronics necessary to utilize dark fiber. In order to justify building its own network, however, a school or library will be required to make an apples-to-apples cost comparison between the cost of building its own network (including maintenance) and the cost of purchasing broadband offered by a service provider. The workshop will take place at the FCC’s headquarters, but may also be viewed online at www.fcc.gov/live.
DWT’s Jim Smith and Danielle Frappier will participate on a panel focusing on these issues at the upcoming 2015 SHLB Annual Conference to be held in the Washington DC area May 20-22, 2015. Update: The FCC released the agenda for its workshop, which will begin at 1:00 pm Eastern and be webcast live on the FCC website.