On November 22, 2022, several E-rate service providers expressed support to calls by schools and libraries urging the FCC to ensure availability of E-rate supported connectivity services by allowing schools and libraries to use Category 2 E-rate funds for next-generation firewalls for securing their networks and the sensitive data of students, teachers, staff, and library patrons.
In the Ex Parte to the FCC, the E-rate service providers including Fortinet, Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc., ENA by Zayo, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Microsoft Corporation, noted that more than 1,100 school districts representing several million K-12 students throughout the United States urged the Commission to clarify that next-generation firewalls are E-rate eligible. Likewise, the representative of more than 120,000 libraries throughout the United States agrees that cybersecurity tools are critical and should be E-rate eligible.
Additionally, the E-rate service providers expressed support to Funds For Learning’s cybersecurity pilot proposal as interim steps. The E-rate vendors mentioned that by implementing FFL’s proposals, the Commission could gauge overall long-term interest in using E-rate funding for next-generation firewalls by gaining real-world E-rate data on how schools and libraries use E-rate funding for cybersecurity tools.
The full Ex Parte letter to FCC can be viewed here.