In the face of a pandemic that continues to rage, the FCC has extended yet again the gift rules in its Rural Health Care (RHC and E-Rate schools and libraries) broadband subsidy programs.
In an effort to promote telehealth and distance learning, the FCC back in March waived the rules until Sept. 30, then again through Dec. 31.
Also Read: Home Classrooms Ineligible for Broadband Subsidies
"In light of the ongoing disruptions caused by COVID-19 to program participants and the continued need for robust connectivity, we find good cause to extend our waivers of the RHC and E-Rate program gift rules through June 30, 2021, the end of funding year 2020," the Wireline Bureau said Monday (Dec. 14).
Also Read: FCC Waives Gift Prohibitions
To guard against abuse of the program, FCC rules prohibit rural entities eligible for the subsidies--schools, libraries, hospitals--from accepting or seeking anything of value (worth over $20) from a provider participating in the program.
With the extended waiver, recipients of Rural Healthcare or E-Rate funding (schools and libraries) can continue to solicit and/or accept "improved capacity, Wi-Fi hotspots, networking gear, or other things of value to assist health care providers, schools and libraries, as well as doctors and patients, teachers, students, school administrators, and librarians and patrons during this unprecedented national pandemic."
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