For immediate release | April 19, 2011

ALA supports broadband build-out to rural libraries in Universal Service Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) yesterday submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (PDF) in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding reform of the high-cost program within the Universal Service Fund and creation of the Connect America Fund (CAF).

The ALA supports the transition of the high-cost program to support broadband and highlighted the need for affordable, high-capacity broadband for libraries – particularly those serving rural communities.

The ALA urges that funding to serve rural areas, whether from the CAF or another funding mechanism, should carry with it the obligation to ensure that public libraries receive adequate broadband connectivity. The comments also note that the proposed CAF and current E-rate program would complement each other to help ensure the promise of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

“The ALA supports reform of the high-cost program in a way that enables 21st century networks and infrastructure build-out that includes libraries without adversely affecting the already underfunded E-rate program,” said Larra Clark, director, OITP Program on Networks.

“If the Connect America Fund can help establish high-capacity broadband infrastructure to the schools and libraries in an area, then schools and libraries likely can apply for E-rate to support the ongoing costs.”