In an announcement certain to bring joy to most of the school and library community, the Schools and Libraries Division announced Oct. 25 that it will be able to fund all eligible Year 2 requests for E-rate services filed during the filing window, including all requests for internal connections support down to and including applicants at the 20 percent discount level.
When the SLD had projected the level of demand for Year 2 last April, it said there were $2.43 billion worth of requests-more than the $2.25 billion that the Federal Communications Commission went on to make available for the program during the 1999-2000 funding year.
However, SLD officials said that after entering all the requests in their data base, they had determined that the exact amount requested was $2.378 billion. Furthermore, their experience in reviewing requests indicated that commitments were being approved at a rate that was about 20 percent below that. The reduction, they said, reflected applications that had found to be ineligible, requests that were trimmed of ineligible services, and a few hundred applications that were duplicated both online and on paper, apparently to ensure that they were received by the SLD.
"The concept of universal access to the Internet and the world of information it offers has moved much closer to reality today," said K.G. Ouye, chairman of the Schools and Libraries Committee and city Librarian of San Mateo, CA. "Universal service funds are indeed fulfilling the promise for our children and communities."
Last year, the SLD was able to fund internal connections requests only for those applicants with discount rates of 70 percent or higher. The SLD now expects to roll over a few hundred million dollars in uncommitted funds from Year 1 over to Year 2. Asked whether any thought was given to providing funding for internal connections for Year 1 applicants who were below the 70 percent threshold, SLD President Kate Moore replied, "No."