Understanding the Multiple Application Windows for Emergency Connectivity Funding

Windows aren’t always transparent. Although two Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) application windows have closed, the FCC has opened a third window April 28-May 13, 2022, but many schools and libraries still are confused by what they’re applying for and when to apply.

Future Funding Window: April 28-May 13, 2022

The new ECF application filing window provides funding for future services and purchases of equipment for students, school staff and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connected devices and broadband connections for the 18-month period beginning July 1, 2022 and ending December 31, 2023. This application filing window:

  • will include eligible equipment and services ordered and received July 1, 2022-December 31, 2023
  • will include eligible future services received July 1, 2022- December 31, 2023 on previously purchased devices (but not the device)
  • will not include eligible equipment and services received or delivered before July 1, 2022

Note: Unlike E-Rate, schools and libraries may apply for ECF funding on eligible equipment and services purchased without having conducted an FCC-mandated competitive bidding process.

For this window, ECF is prioritizing funding for:

  • Equipment purchases made by schools and libraries after July 1, 2022
  • Services delivered from July 1, 2022 through December 31, 2023

Once this third funding window closes, the FCC expects that the remaining $1 billion in Emergency Connectivity Funds will be exhausted.

Eligible Equipment and Services

Schools and libraries may seek 100% funding from ECF for eligible equipment and services for this 18-month period. Purchases made between July 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023 must be used to implement connections for locations outside the physical campus and may include:

  • Broadband services providing connectivity for off-campus (households, kiosks, school buses, churches, etc.) use by students, school staff or library patrons
  • Broadband equipment including Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, cellular air-cards and devices that combine a modem and router
  • Connected learning devices including laptop and tablet computers or similar devices that can connect to qualifying broadband networks

There is a $400 cap on reimbursement per connected device and a $250 cap on Wi-Fi hotspots. The program is limited to one connected device or one Wi-Fi hotspot per student, school staff member or library patron, and does not allow for the purchase of extra devices in case of loss or breakage.

Filing Window FAQs

Question: Can schools and libraries request reimbursement for monthly service of hotspots and connected devices? 

Answer: All monthly services beginning July 1, 2022 are included in the third funding window that opens April 28-May 13 no matter when the device was purchased.

Question: Can a school or library use ECF funds to replace a connected device in this first window that was broken during prior school year(s)?  

Answer: Yes, ECF funds can be used to purchase a replacement after July 1 for items that are missing, lost or damaged for which there is no other grant funding.

Question: What if I order an item but my vendor is unable to deliver the items by July 1 due to pandemic shortages?

Answer: This application filing window can include eligible equipment ordered but not yet received, as long as the items are received by December 31, 2023.

Your UScellular® ECF Partner

UScellular is here to address all your FAQs. Our in-house ECF specialist will answer your questions and help guide you through the application process. And, with extensive experience working with schools and libraries, our government solutions experts look forward to helping you see through the ECF windows.

Now is a good time to contact UScellular to start purchasing needed devices and setting up mobile services to begin no sooner than July 1, 2021.

Get started by reaching out to your local solutions expert at 866-616-5587 or by filling out this form.

Tips to Prepare for ECF Filing Windows

To prepare for the future funding window, the FCC recommends that schools and libraries:

  • Review the ECF order and visit the FCC and org web pages
  • Sign up to receive information and updates about the program.
  • View webinars on how to complete an application.
  • Obtain or locate an FCC registration number (FRN) — needed to apply for ECF support
  • Verify you are not in red light status at the FCC or on the U.S. Treasury’s do not pay list
  • Register with System for Award Management at gov — required to receive funds; allow 10-20 days for registration to become active
  • Evaluate unmet needs