Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Program – Reasonable Support Amounts

Bryson Moore
February 28, 2023
5 min read

Reasonable Support Amounts

Money should not be a hindrance to getting the support and devices you need. For that reason, there are clearly defined support amounts for all eligible devices that can be purchased through the ECF. Addressing any unmet needs is also of the utmost importance and is clearly explained  for your convenience below.

Q: What Are the Reasonable Support Amounts for Eligible Equipment?

  • The program will reimburse applicants a maximum of $400 for each laptop or tablet, and a maximum of $250 for Wi-Fi hotpots.
  • For other eligible equipment and services, the FCC and USAC will review costs to ensure they are reasonable.

Q: Can a school or library purchase connected devices that cost more than $400?

A: Yes, schools and libraries may buy more expensive laptops, tablets, or Wi-Fi-hotspots, but they can only be reimbursed up to $400 for each laptop or tablet and up to $250 for Wi-Fi Hotspots.

Q: Is the $250 limit on Wi-Fi hotspots for hardware and monthly services, or just hardware?

A: The $250 limit is a cap on the hardware cost for a Wi-Fi hotspot provided to a student, school staff, or a library patron. The monthly cost of services must also be reasonable, but is not included in the $250.

Q: Are monthly services costs limited to $25 per month?

A: No. The Order states that services would generally be in the range of $10 to $25 per month, but it did not set a maximum support amount in the way that it did for connected devices or Wi-Fi hotspots. USAC will review monthly service costs to ensure that they are reasonable. Applicants should be prepared to justify the service selection process they used and reasonableness of costs, if requested, during the review process.

Q: Can a tablet or laptop that can serve as a connected device and a Wi-Fi hotspot collect both $400 and $250 per device?

A: No, a school or library cannot receive additional funding for a tablet or laptop that can serve as both connected device and a hotspot. It is a connected device subject to the $400 cap.

Q: Are Wi-Fi hotspots designed for many users, such as on a bus (e.g. 100+ users), limited to $250?

A: No, the $250 limit is a cap on the hardware cost for a Wi-Fi hotspot provided to an individual student, school staff, or a library patron. As with other eligible equipment and services, however, costs must be reasonable. Applicants should explain in their funding request narratives how the multi-user Wi-Fi hotspot is being used or provide an explanation for the higher cost and why the equipment was selected.

Q: How should applicants determine their unmet needs?

A: The FCC has not prescribed a specific way for applicants to go about estimating what they will need to address unmet needs.

In the case of schools, applicants should provide their best estimates about the number of students who did not have access to adequate connected devices, broadband connections, or both when the pandemic began; the number of students who do not currently have adequate access; and how the applicant expects those numbers to change with the requested ECF Program support.

While the FCC has not dictated specific data collection requirements for estimating the unmet for students, schools must describe how and when they collected the information that they use for the estimates provided in their responses.

There is no such data collection requirement for libraries to estimate the unmet need for library patrons. However, both schools and libraries must certify that they are seeking support for eligible equipment and/or services for students, school staff, and/or library patrons that would otherwise lack adequate access.

We encourage applicants to make their best efforts to estimate what they will need and apply for ECF funding in a timely manner, just as they do for the E-Rate Program.

Applicants may seek funding for only one fixed broadband connection per location and only one connected device and/or Wi-Fi hotspot per student, school staff member or library patron.

More questions on the ECF Program? Visit the FCC’s FAQ Page

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Bryson Moore
February 28, 2023

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