The maintenance issue is one of several items the FCC seeks to clarify in its revised ESL. Another is web hosting; the agency proposes to keep web hosting as an eligible service, but not if the website in question restricts access to students and staff. (In other words, the e-Rate would cover a portion of the cost of web hosting only for school websites that are open to the public.)

The FCC’s proposal also…

• Clarifies that satellite internet service is eligible for e-Rate support;

• Clarifies that firewall services cannot be provided by a vendor other than a school’s internet access provider and cannot be priced out separately; and

• Adds smart phones and tablets as examples of end-user equipment that is not eligible for support, among other changes.

This is the earliest the FCC has released a draft of its revised ESL, which the agency does before every program year. The FCC has “made it clear they want to streamline the program,” Cruzan said, and releasing its proposed ESL sooner in the process is another example of this, as it gives schools more time to plan their e-Rate needs.

Comments to the FCC’s proposed changes must be submitted to the agency no later than July 15, and reply comments are due July 25. The FCC will issue a final version of the ESL after reviewing stakeholders’ comments.