The Schools and Libraries Division announced Jan. 20 that more than 36,000 requests for E-rate support were submitted by the close of the Year 3 filing window on Jan. 19-about 4,000 more than were filed in the program's second year.
The SLD also said that 28,000 applications-triple the number of last year-were filed online. That should help the SLD meet its goal of making all of the Year 3 funding commitments by yearly May to give service providers the time they need to implement discounted billing by the start of the third funding year on July 1, 2000.
It was unclear whether the increased number of applications actually represented an increase in the number of applicants or funding requested as schools and libraries could submit multiple applications and divide up their requests as they chose. In fact, last year, the SLD discovered that a number of schools and libraries had filed applications both online and on paper, reducing the number of actual dollars that were requested.
The SLD will now make a projection of the demand for funds to guide the Federal Communications Commission when it sets the size of the pool of E-rate dollars later this year. Last year, the FCC provided the maximum permissible, or $2.25 billion. Initially, the SLD projected that more than $2.4 billion had been requested by applicants, but by the time all the applications were reviewed and the funds committed, that total had dropped to $1.9 billion.