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SLC Indicates Change to Be Made in Priority Rules

Officials of the Schools and Libraries Corp. indicated this week that there will be a change in the rules of priority when it begins making determinations for funding internal connections requests.

Under the Federal Communications Commission's 5th Order on Reconsideration issued in June, funds were to be distributed until there was not enough money left to fund all of the internal connections requests in the next discount "band," a range of 10 percentage points such as, for example, from 79 percent to 70 percent. In that case, the FCC had said, it would divide up the funds on a pro-rata basis among all the applicants in the discount band.

At a conference for vendors in Dallas Nov. 11-12, SLC General Counsel Debra Kriete said that internal connections funds would instead be distributed on a strict priority basis. Under this approach, for example, all line items that show a 79 percent discount rate would be funded before items listing a 78 percent discount rate, and so forth, until the funds are exhausted.

No details were available on where that cutoff point might be. Recently, however, SLC officials have said that they expect that the funds will go farther than they had first estimated.

The change presumably will require a new determination from the FCC. The agency is reportedly preparing another reconsideration order for the E-rate program that should be issued soon.

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