In response to its December 2022 request for comments regarding E-rate support for “advanced or next-generation firewalls” and other security services, E-rate stakeholders across the country showed tremendous support for ensuring that schools and libraries have financial resources for mission-critical network security. Comments were submitted by hundreds of schools, libraries, service providers, manufacturers, consultants, and industry organizations of all sizes. Common threads expressed by numerous commenters include:
- Unified call for support – virtually all commenters were in favor of the FCC taking steps to ensure E-rate funding is available for next-generation firewalls and other security services.
- The threats are real, and dangerous – numerous comments expressed well-researched examples of the real-world financial and social impacts of network security breaches, ransomware attacks, and other cybersecurity incidents. It is clear that attacks are on the rise and that K12 organizations are prime targets.
- Don’t fence us in – Many commenters cautioned the FCC against being too specific or granular in determining what specific firewall features or technologies should qualify for E-rate support. Network security is a rapidly and continually evolving technology, and many are concerned that too narrow a definition of eligible functions could result in an outdated Eligible Services List in short order.
Funds For Learning’s comments may be viewed here. A list of comments received, with links to view each comment, may be accessed here.