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FCC Votes to Allow Schools Receiving Broadband Funding to Open Service to Public

The FCC voted unanimously on Thursday (Feb. 18) to allow schools that receive government broadband funding under the E-Rate program to open that service to the public during non-school hours for the next 18 months.

Under current rules, those schools can only use E-rate supported broadband facilities for their student educational purposes.

The FCC changed that to include after-school and summer use by the public for adult education, job training, and access to government services.

The FCC will also seek to comment on making the 18-month waiver permanent.

The waiver does not allow schools to request more funding than they would need to meet their students' in-school needs. It can only be used by the public on the weekends, holidays, and the summer when kids are not there and that the discounted broadband services cannot be resold.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said the commission needed to make sure it did not become a back door method for schools to seek more money than they were entitled to.