Massachusetts’ share of Emergency Connectivity Fund increases to nearly $45 million to connect students at home to the internet
Washington (October 25, 2021) - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, released the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made two new announcements regarding the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). Senator Markey successfully fought to include the ECF program in the American Rescue Plan this past March, which provides $7.17 billion in E-Rate home connectivity funding to allow elementary and secondary schools and libraries – including Tribal schools and libraries – to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, including internet service through such equipment, to students, staff, and patrons.
Today, the FCC announced that schools and libraries have requested nearly $1.3 billion in the second application window of this program, bringing the demand to date up to more than $6 billion (which includes the initial filing period that closed in August). The FCC also announced that an additional $269 million has been committed in ECF awards to prior applicants, including $15.7 million for Massachusetts. Between all of the FCC’s funding commitments to date, Massachusetts will receive a current cumulative total of $44.8 million through the ECF.
“The Emergency Connectivity Fund is continuing to address an urgent need across the country: closing the homework gap,” said Senator Markey. “This historic program is now providing nine million students with the devices and internet connections they need to succeed. But with more than $6 billion already requested, this vital fund could run dry before the end of the current school year. We cannot allow that to occur. We must provide additional E-Rate home connectivity dollars and keep this program going for our most vulnerable children. So I am once again calling on my colleagues to replenish the Emergency Connectivity Fund by passing my SUCCESS Act as part of our budget reconciliation package.”
In July, Senator Markey, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06) introduced the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act to build on the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion a year over five years – for a total of $40 billion – to continue to connect students at home to the internet.
Since the E-Rate program began more than two decades ago, more than $54 billion, including approximately $770 million in Massachusetts, has been invested nationwide to provide internet access for schools and libraries. Senator Markey is the author of the original E-Rate program, which was created as a part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to connect schools and libraries to the internet. The new Emergency Connectivity Fund is a natural extension of the E-Rate program to connect students learning at home.