Schools and Libraries Program:
Update on State-Level Funding by Category of Service
GAO-01-673: Published: May 11, 2001. Publicly Released: May 11, 2001.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 expanded the traditional definition of universal service--affordable, nationwide telephone service--to include eligible schools and libraries. The act authorized the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin a program to help these institutions acquire advanced telecommunications services in the following three areas: telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections. This report discusses state-level data on the amount of funds committed to the three categories of eligible services for each of the program's first three years. GAO found that requests substantially exceeded the program's available funding level during the program's first and third years. Priority is given to funding telecommunications and Internet access requests, and then to internal connections. Applicants have requested nearly $5.2 billion in e-rate support, more than double the program's $2.25 billion funding cap. Because requests for telecommunications and Internet access services total about $1.7 billion, most of the nearly $3.5 billion in internal connections requests could go unfunded under the current funding cap priority rules.