Massachusetts will receive $29 million in total Emergency Connectivity Fund dollars to date
Boston (October 12, 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) announced it has committed more than $1.1 billion in the second tranche of funding of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The ECF is a program Senator Markey fought to pass in the American Rescue Plan this past March, which provides $7.17 billion 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. Nearly 70 schools and libraries across Massachusetts will receive $14.2 million in this second round of ECF awards. In September, the FCC committed more than $1.2 billion to schools and libraries across the country in the program’s first funding round, including $14.8 million to Massachusetts. Between these two rounds, Massachusetts will receive a current cumulative total of $29 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. “With even more urgently-needed funding out the door today, this historic program is now providing nearly eight million students the devices and internet connections they need to succeed. I’m deeply proud of the impact this funding is having on our students, underscoring the continued need for internet connectivity for our most vulnerable students. We cannot allow these newly connected students to lose their access when the Emergency Connectivity Fund’s original allocation runs dry. We must provide additional E-Rate funding to our schools and libraries by passing my SUCCESS Act as part of the 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 to the internet following the coronavirus pandemic.
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.