FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel circulated among her colleagues Friday a draft Report and Order that, if adopted, would establish the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The subsidies would help get students connected at home.
If passed, the order would set ambitious performance goals for the fund and lay out the process by which schools and liberties could gain access to connected devices and broadband connections for students, school staff and library patrons. Devices like tablets are included, however the Commission is excluding desktops and mobile phones from its definition of “connected devices,” part of streamlining the process for schools to obtain the funding.
“During the pandemic, our classrooms went virtual and what was already an unconscionable homework gap has become a learning chasm with even more devastating consequences,” said Rosenworcel. “Even as the pandemic ebbs in some areas and surges in others, millions of students are still engaged in remote learning, and there is no time to lose. Congress has entrusted the Commission with the vital task of providing relief to our students, teachers, school staff, and library patrons – and has mandated that we do so quickly.”
Congress included funding for the student connectivity program in the American Rescue Plan signed into law earlier this year. Rosenworcel hopes the agency will adopt the order by May 10.