CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. How we test ISPs

FCC approves $7B broadband connectivity fund

The funding will help schools and libraries pay for devices and broadband services.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently oversees the CNET breaking news desk for the West Coast. Corinne covers everything from phones, social media and security to movies, politics, 5G and pop culture. In her spare time, she watches soccer games, F1 races and Disney movies.
Expertise News
Corinne Reichert
2 min read

Schools and libraries can access the $7 billion to help pay for an internet connection for students and teachers.

Robert Rodriguez/CNET

The US Federal Communications Commission on Monday unanimously approved the final rules to implement the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The FCC program will provide funding for schools and libraries across the country to buy laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots and broadband connections to help students and teachers to access the internet for online learning during the pandemic.

The program is part of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan

It also follows the FCC approving a plan in February to administer $3.2 billion in emergency relief to subsidize broadband for millions of Americans during the pandemic. That program will provide $50 per month to low-income households and $75 per month to households on Native American lands to cover the cost of broadband services starting May 12. It also provides $100 toward buying a laptop or tablet.

Read also: The FCC is offering a $50 monthly internet discount. Here's who's eligible

"Between this Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, we are investing more than $10 billion in American students and households," Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the FCC, said in a statement Monday. "These investments will help more Americans access online education, healthcare and employment resources. They will help close the homework gap for students nationwide."

According to the FCC, there may be 17 million children across the US who don't have access to the broadband needed for remote learning. Those children are "disproportionately from communities of color, low-income households, Tribal lands, and rural areas," the congresspeople behind the legislation -- Sens. Edward J. Markey, Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen, Michael Bennet, Maggie Hassan and Congresswoman Grace Meng -- said.

"FCC implementation of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program is an important step towards ensuring the 'homework gap' does not grow into a more damaging learning and opportunity gap for our children, particularly those who live in communities of color, low-income households and rural areas," Sen. Markey said in a statement Monday evening.