On January 26, 2023, the Federal Communications Commission announced the tentative agenda for their February open meeting. Among the items on the agenda was a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would “seek comment on ways to further improve program rules and encourage greater Tribal participation in the E-Rate program.”
If adopted at the February meeting, the NPRM would:
- Seek comment on whether the Commission should revise its eligibility rules to allow Tribal college libraries that serve a dual role as a public library in their communities to be eligible for E-Rate support.
- Seek comment on ways to improve the E-Rate application process, such as by simplifying E-Rate forms, providing an additional exemption to the competitive bidding rules, and whether creating an extended or separate application filing window for Tribal libraries would be beneficial to align with the applicable Tribal procurement requirements and approval processes.
- Seek comment on ways to simplify the E-Rate cost-allocation rules and procedures and whether further guidance is needed.
- Seek comment on several proposed program changes, including increasing the maximum discount rate level for category two services from 85% to 90% for Tribal schools and libraries, and increasing the category two five-year $25,000 funding floor for Tribal schools and libraries.
- Seek comment on increasing Tribal representation and leadership at the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and in the universal service fund programs by adding a Tribal representative to USAC’s Board of Directors.
- Seek comment on establishing a definition of “Tribal” for the E-Rate program.
- Seek comment on whether the Commission should consider any other measures to make it easier for Tribal applicants and other small non-Tribal applicants to access and participate in the E-Rate program
The proposed NPRM may be viewed in its entirety here.