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FCC Grants Request to Extend Emergency Connectivity Fund

The SHLB Coalition, American Library Association, Consortium for School Networking and State Educational Technology Directors Association successfully lobbied for a deadline extension to use emergency funds through June 2023.

Broadband Tower
Schools and libraries have more time to spend funds recently awarded to them through the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Emergency Connectivity Fund for expanding Internet access during COVID-19, a Tuesday announcement from the FCC said.

According to a news release, the service delivery deadline has been extended from June 30, 2022, to June 30, 2023, following a petition by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the American Library Association, the Consortium for School Networking and the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which allocated $7.1 billion for school broadband through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, allows schools and libraries to purchase hot spots, routers and other devices needed for virtual learning.

John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the SHLB Coalition, said in a news release that the extension will be crucial for millions of students and libraries to maintain Internet connections needed for several more months than initially expected.

“We’ve been hearing from applicants that the upcoming June 30, 2022, deadline would have imposed a severe hardship on schools and libraries who might have seen their funding go to waste due to supply chain delays and other factors beyond their control. The Puerto Rico Department of Education, for example, estimated that they would lose $20 million to $30 million of funding, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library had to delay the launch of their $8 million laptop program such that by June 30, 2022, they would have spent only a fraction of their award,” he said in a public statement. “Today’s order shows that their team has been listening, and it will free schools and libraries to make the biggest impact with their ECF dollars.”