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Firewall and Network Security Comments Sought by FCC

On December 14, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Public Notice seeking comments on the use of E-rate funding to support next-generation firewalls and other network security services. In its Public Notice the FCC poses a number of questions, including how “advanced or next-generation firewalls” should be defined, what types of equipment, services, and functions should be eligible, whether firewalls should be funded as Category One or Category Two services, and how to ensure applicants make cost-effective purchases.

The Public Notice notes that the Commission “received several petitions and requests…asking that [they] permit the use of E-Rate program funds” to support advanced security. Four specific filings were referenced:

(1) a petition for waiver filed by Cisco Systems, Inc. (Cisco);
(2) a petition for declaratory ruling and petition for rulemaking filed by a coalition led by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN);
(3) a proposed three-year E-Rate cybersecurity pilot program by Funds for Learning (FFL); and
(4) a letter from 20 national educational groups led by AASA, The School Superintendents Association (AASA).

Comments are due to the FCC by February 13, 2023, with reply comments due March 30, 2023.

The FCC’s Public Notice may be viewed here.

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