ALA welcomes federal E-rate support for Wi-fi hotspots

For Immediate Release
Thu, 11/09/2023


Shawnda Hines

Deputy Director, Communications

Public Policy and Advocacy Office

Washington — The American Library Association (ALA) today welcomed the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to permit use of E-rate funding for Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless internet access services.

ALA President Emily Drabinski said, “As key partners in closing the digital divide, libraries and schools should be able to pick the best solution for their community’s technology needs. The ECP demonstrated that libraries are fantastic local partners in deploying hotspot lending programs and finding connectivity solutions for their patrons. The American Library Association agrees with the FCC that extending the E-rate program to cover hotspot lending and off-campus broadband services is a sustainable way for libraries to continue supporting communities and households who lack home the broadband access necessary for work, school, health and social connection.”

The proposal, released on November 8, 2023, would update the E-rate program to meet the educational needs of library patrons and students who rely on libraries and hotspot lending programs to access internet at home.  This change comes as the Emergency Connectivity Program (ECP), which supported off-campus broadband connections during the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to expire on June 30, 2024. This proposed change is a part of FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s Learn Without Limits initiative, which she announced at ALA’s Annual Conference in June 2023.