The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched a new pilot program intended to help Tribal libraries apply for broadband funding through the commission’s E-Rate program.
“For too long, some Tribal libraries were shut off from E-Rate support because they didn’t meet the technical definition of a library in the Commission’s rules. We fixed this problem, and now we are working to make the sign-up process easier,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Our pilot will provide one-on-one help to Tribal libraries throughout the sign-up and benefit process. We want to do everything possible to make sure Tribal communities have full access to the digital age.”
Under the E-Rate program, the FCC provides support to help schools and libraries obtain affordable, high-speed broadband services and internal connections. As part of the new pilot program, the FCC will target 20 Tribal libraries that are new to the E-Rate program or have had challenges applying in the past.
In a press release, the FCC said the program will “provide one-on-one assistance in all aspects of planning and applying for E-Rate support, and help participants once they successfully apply to ensure they are supported during the invoicing and other post-commitment processes.”
The FCC also said that based on lessons learned during the initial pilot, the program could be expanded to include more Tribal libraries and targeted, in-person training opportunities. Applications to participate in the pilot program are due on November 18.