The Schools and Libraries Division was authorized June 20 to begin approving eligible 2003 funding requests for internal connections for applicants qualifying for a discount rate of 90 percent. The Schools and Libraries Committee of the board of directors of the Universal Service Administrative Company met briefly and voted to give the SLD that authority.
The decision suggests that the SLD has already done a substantial amount of work in reviewing, trimming or rejecting funding commitments, or in projecting what its trends are likely to be. In early April, the SLD reported to the Federal Communications Commission that 2003 applicants had requested nearly $2.2 billion worth of discounts for Priority One services. At the time, it said that applicants at the 90 percent discount rate had submitted $2.1 billion worth of requests for internal connections. In 2002, the SLD was also authorized to commit up to $2.7 billion, recognizing that applicants failed to use some money that had been approved for them.
It was not clear how quickly the SLD would begin issuing funding commitments for internal connections. It was not until October 2002 that it began approving those requests for the 2002 funding year. So far this year, it has approved about $384 million in commitments for Priority One services. The application window closed three weeks later this year than in 2002.