Contact: Bernadette Murphy,

Washington Communications Director
(202) 628-8410 ext. 8236

For Immediate Release:
October 18, 2005

American Library Association proposes simplification of E-rate program

Improved application process would increase participation by libraries, schools

(WASHINGTON, DC) For nearly a decade, the E-rate has provided libraries and schools with discounted telecommunications and information services, allowing communities in low-income and remote rural areas affordable access to telecommunications resources, including the World Wide Web. The program is a major reason for the enormous increase in Internet connectivity in America’s public libraries. Libraries are now the #1 source of Internet access behind home, school and work, and the only access point for millions of Americans.

Today the American Library Association (ALA) submitted comments to the FCC as part of the NPRM process that include a plan for major simplification of the application and disbursement process. The simplification plan addresses the challenges faced by E-rate, its applicants, the Administrator, and participating service providers by eliminating unnecessary steps in the E-rate and bringing clarity to the roles of the applicants, states, service providers and administrators. Simplification of the program would mean fewer opportunities for bad actors to commit fraud and abuse, while a less-bureaucratic process would also mean that scarce FCC/USAC resources could be put to better use. A simplified application process would increase participation in the program, particularly among very small and often rural libraries and schools who could not previously afford the staff time the program demands.

“E-rate must be a stable and predictable source of funding for libraries that rely on it,” said Lynne Bradley, Director of the ALA’s Office of Government Relations. “The Commission should place a priority on achieving this goal.”

Full text of the ALA’s comments can be found at: