News - April 23, 2021

INCOMPAS Files FCC Reply Comments on Emergency Connectivity Fund
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 23, 2021) – INCOMPAS, the internet and competitive networks association, filed reply comments today at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) for educational connections and devices.
Following its initial comments, INCOMPAS continues to stress three important points for the ECF:

  1. The Commission should take a competitively neutral approach regarding eligible equipment and services. To best address the issue of remote learning and the Homework Gap, the Commission should ensure that schools and libraries have as wide a range of options as possible and permit community anchor institutions to choose the technology that best works to connect their constituents.
  2. The Commission should allow reimbursements of eligible equipment and services purchased as of January 27, 2020, which is defined as the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency period. Schools and libraries that made the decision earlier on to invest in connectivity for remote learning should be reimbursed, not penalized. 
  3. A new competitive bidding process is not necessary in this emergency context for schools and libraries that have already entered into E-rate supported contracts; and if they have not, the Commission should adopt a streamlined competitive bidding process that will ensure competitive rates for equipment and services in the Fund. 
In addition, the INCOMPAS reply comments show the broad support in the record for those arguments ranging from public interest organizations, school districts, trade associations, private companies, and E-rate-focused groups.
“The Emergency Connectivity Fund is about getting students, school staff and library patrons connected for remote learning as soon as possible during the pandemic and beyond. The future of remote learning depends on faster more affordable networks, and competition has proven to deliver both,” said Lindsay Stern, INCOMPAS attorney and policy advisor. “We are encouraging the FCC to look to the future with a set of technology neutral rules for the ECF that promote competition and streamlining for a faster more robust roll out that provides teachers, students, library patrons, and families with a wide range of options to address the Homework Gap and remote learning challenges.”