A few days after the third window of the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) closed, the agency announced that the 15th wave of funds, valued at more than $50 million, had been awarded.
The funding will go to 46 schools, 7 libraries and 2 consortia in American Samoa, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The ECF, which was created by the American Rescue Plan Act, aims to moderate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting off-campus communications, such as connectivity to student homes.
The program is administered by libraries and schools, which can use the funding to purchase laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connections. The FCC has awarded almost $4.9 billion of the total ECF budget of $7.17 billion.
The 15th wave consists of more than $49 million from window 1 applications and more than $1 million from window 2 applications.
“With help from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, millions of students across the country now have online tools to support their education,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. “This program is providing funding for nearly 11 million connected devices and 5 million broadband connections throughout the country, and moving us closer toward closing the Homework Gap.”
The third application wave ran from April 28 to May 13. Entities whose applications were approved will be able to purchase equipment and services between July 1 of this year and December 31 of 2023. Today’s announcement said that the results will be announced: “in [the] coming days.”
The FCC appears to be preparing for the winding down of the ECF by offloading an important function to another part of the agency. Last week, Rosenworcel proposed a Declaratory Ruling that would enable the E-Rate program to be used for funding school bus Wi-Fi. The declaratory ruling must be adopted by the commission to take effect.
The ECF has spent $35 million for this purpose, which is especially valuable in rural areas in which students spend long periods in transit.
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