The FCC has extended filing and implementation deadline for its E-rate broadband subsidies to schools and libraries impacted by the COVID-19 virus.
"These extensions, granted by the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, will alleviate administrative and compliance burdens on schools and libraries and enable them to focus on transitioning to remote learning during the pandemic," the FCC said.
It is just the latest in a host of actions the FCC has taken to remove logistical impediments to dealing with the pandemic.
The FCC order issued Wednesday (April 1), waives "the service implementation deadline for special construction for all funding year 2019 applicants and extends this deadline by one year, from June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2021."
Without that waiver, applicable E-Rate applicants would have to have lit up their networks by June 30. But with most schools and libraries closed, service providers "may not be allowed on the premises and may experience significant challenges in meeting this construction deadline."
"In light of extended school and library closures, we’re granting an across-the-board, one-year extension of the E-Rate special construction deadline for funding year 2019,” said FCC chair Ajit Pai."
The chairman has signaled the FCC will ask Congress for money for a remote distance learning project in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill. "I look forward to continue working with Congress to fund a Remote Learning Initiative so that every child can continue being educated during the pandemic," he said.
The FCC also extended its service delivery deadline for non-recurring services for funding year 2019 by one year, from Sept. 30, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021 and granted schools and libraries "an automatic 60-day extension to file requests for review or waiver of decisions by the E-Rate program administrator, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)," as well as an "automatic 120-day extension of the invoice filing deadline. It will also give participants another 30-day extension to respond to "certain information requests from USAC."
The FCC has already made sure that close schools and libraries can still qualify for E-rate funding.