Internet access plays a critical role in the work of our nation’s schools and libraries, and almost every one of those institutions turns to the federal E-rate program for support. In 2016, the E-rate continued to evolve and expand. The year ended with the Trump Administration preparing to take the helm of the executive branch and with FCC Chairman Wheeler announcing that he will depart the FCC on January 20, 2017.  The year also brought leadership changes to the SLD with the departure of Mel Blackwell as Vice-President of the program and the selection of Craig Davis to fill his shoes.
 
2016 was the first year in which E-rate Modernization was fully implemented and applicants have begun to see the positive effects of the FCC’s decision to modernize the E-rate program. Adequate funds were available to cover all funding applications. Wi-Fi is being deployed in buildings and new high-speed networks are connecting campuses to the Internet.
 
Yet, there is still more progress to be made, especially as it relates to the administration of the program. 2016 saw the E-rate filing window deadline slip all the way until May 26, and, in a first of its kind, a second window opened until July 21 for libraries and consortia. In 2017, additional improvements and changes are expected as new leadership takes the reins at the FCC.
 
More insights about the need for E-rate discounts, and its impact on schools and libraries, can be found in the 2016 E-rate Trend Analysis Report published by Funds For Learning. (The report is available for download here.)
 
Below are some of the top headlines from this past year:
 
January 25, 2016
 
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April 26, 2016
 
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June 8, 2016
 
August 1, 2016
 
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December 16, 2016