FCC Tops $1 Billion in Emergency Broadband Fund First Wave

A pile of money
(Image credit: Chris Clor via Getty Images)

The Federal Communication Commission has handed out over $1.2 billion in the first wave of the Biden administration’s Emergency Connectivity Fund for schools and libraries.

The actual figure is $1,203,107,496.88 for 3,040 schools, 260 libraries and a couple of dozen broadband consortia. There is still almost $5 billion left, with the second filing window opening Sept. 28 and extending through June 30.

The Biden Administration made sure that first wave got some publicity, with Vice President Kamala Harris, who was deputized by the President with shepherding the universal broadband issue, announced the figure on The View.

Also Read: FCC Unanimously Approves $7 Billion-Plus Emergency Connectivity Fund Framework

The FCC said the money will pay for more than 3 million devices and 774,115 broadband connections, including for more than 3 million students the agency has been assured would not otherwise have computers or connections or both.

“This first round of funding in the Emergency Connectivity Fund will help thousands of schools and libraries across the country provide critical online resources to their students, staff and library patrons,” acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

As part of the massive COVID-19 American Relief Act, the FCC had 60 days to set up an e-rate Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) of $7.6 billion (minus $1 million to pay for FCC Inspector General oversight of the program). The Universal Service Administrative Company, which oversees the FCC's ongoing USF subsidy program, is administering the emergency fund, which is separate from USF subsidies.

The money goes to eligible schools and libraries to pay 100% for the costs of equipment and/or advanced communications service for students both in school and remote learning, and for library patrons both in libraries and remotely. The money is available until 2030.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.