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FCC Enables Schools to Allow “Community Use” of Internet during Non-Operating Hours

The FCC, during its monthly open meeting, adopted an Order temporarily waiving FCC regulations for the remainder of FY 2009 and through FY 2010 which will enable schools to “…allow members of the general public to use the schools’ Internet access during non-operating hours…” 

This change would enable the community to hold adult education classes or job training programs after school, weekends or breaks and the FCC believes that allowing this additional use would be an efficient use of public resources.  However, the additional bandwidth needs would be incidental and the FCC would not expect E-rate demand to increase because of this possible rule shift.

The FCC also adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in order to get stakeholder feedback on making this change permanent and to set conditions to guard against waste, fraud and abuse such as:

  • Schools will not be permitted to request funding for more services than are necessary for educational purposes
  • Community usage must be limited to non-operating hours
  • Schools can not charge for the use of the facilities

Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and Reply Comments are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The FCC Community Use Order and NPRM can be viewed here.

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