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FCC allocates $5.3M to Puerto Rico schools, libraries through emergency fund

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has committed $5.3 million to Puerto Rico through its program to fund connected devices and broadband connections through its Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, the agency confirmed.

The island has received the funding in three waves, getting $2.6 million during the first round, $2.1 million in the second, and $625,928 in the third, according to FCC data.

So far, public and private schools and libraries across the island have submitted 1,140 funding applications to the agency, some doing so several times for different initiatives, according to the FCC’s Open Data Portal.

However, the FCC has so far committed to funding about 176 of those applications; the rest have been certified and waiting for next steps.

Since its launch earlier this year, the federal agency has committed to distributing a global $2.6 billion in funding, with half of that responding to funding requests received during its second application filing window, which ran from Sept. 28 to Oct. 13.

The second-round funding can be used to support off-campus leaning, such as homework and virtual learning, as schools and libraries continue to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

In total, the agency has $7.17 billion in its Emergency Connectivity Fund Program to fund nearly 2.4 million connected devices and more than 564,000 broadband connections.

The agency confirmed in a release that an additional $269 million has been committed during a third wave of funding to connect more than 9 million students across the US mainland, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. 

“Clearly there still is a tremendous demand for help in our communities to meet the broadband needs of students and library patrons engaged in online learning,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. 

“The Emergency Connectivity Fund is the single largest effort to bring connectivity and devices to students, helping to close the Homework Gap and providing critical services to library patrons,” she said. “Together with the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, the Commission is investing more than $10 billion to support success in the digital age, no matter who you are or where you live.”

With the first three waves, the FCC is providing support for more than 6.1 million connected devices and nearly 2.9 million broadband connections to support 6,028 schools, 512 libraries, and 49 consortia, it confirmed.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.
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