On February 6, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report & Order reforming and modernizing the Lifeline and Link Up Universal Service Fund (USF) programs. In the Order, the FCC also included a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on the best way to advance digital literacy through existing USF support programs. The FCC suggested having digital literacy programs administered through the E-rate as one possible option. Comments were due on April 2, 2012, and reply comments will be due May 1.
A total of 44 stakeholders have submitted comments, and below is a summary of the comments tied to digital literacy and using the USF as the funding stream for this initiative.
Organizations that not only support using USF for digital literacy education, but also support using the E-rate as the mechanism to administer the new program:
Organizations that believe that USF can support digital literacy education, but oppose using the E-rate as the mechanism to administer the new program:
Organizations that do not support using USF to support digital literacy education:
National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors and the National Association of Counties
Alaska Communications systems Group, Inc.
United States Telecom Association
Organizations that believe that the decision on using USF to support digital literacy education is premature, and should first review if new rules tied to the Lifeline program are working:
Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance
Organizations support using USF to support digital literacy education, but did not address whether digital literacy should be funded through the E-rate mechanism specifically:
The Gila River Indian Community and Gila River Telecommunications, Inc
It is expected that an ultimate decision on the NPRM will either come later this calendar year or sometime in 2013.