This week, the American Library Association (ALA) submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) on the reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution mechanism. The FNPRM is part of the Commission’s effort to modernize universal service programs—including the E-rate program—so that they can efficiently bring the benefits of 21st century broadband to the public across the country.
The ALA advocated for the Commission to ensure the stability of the USF as it addresses contribution reform such that the necessary reforms are not disruptive to individual programs. In particular, the E-rate program depends on the fund’s stability in order for libraries and schools to provide Internet-enabled services to the public. Demand on the fund continues to climb as libraries include more programs and services that demand high-capacity broadband connections, such as video conferencing and mobile computer labs.
The ALA stated the following in the comments: “Libraries (including school libraries as part of the K-12 campus) continue to increase their connectivity and improve their services through the E-rate program, though they are not yet able to meet community demand for connectivity and will continue to need E-rate discounts to add critical capacity.”
The ALA also discussed libraries as “end users” of telecommunications services, stating that libraries should not be required to pay directly into the USF. ALA suggests that the nation’s most disadvantaged libraries and school would further enhance their broadband capabilities if, as with Lifeline customers, these libraries and school were not required to contribute as end-users into the Fund.
View the ALA comments (pdf)
Press Officer, ALA Washington Office