New ECF Window Announced for Public Libraries to Receive Free Hotspots and Devices

The Highlights:

  • A third Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Window opens April 28 and closes May 13.
  • ECF will only pay accredited public libraries for Internet/Connected Devices to support library patrons with unmet need.
  • 18 month service period from July 1, 2022, through December 31, 2023, BUT only can seek at most 12 months of funding.
  • Prohibition against duplicate funding for same time period/same services from ECF Windows 1 & 2 {and other COVID relief funding}.
  • About $1 Billion in funding available for Internet at home and Laptops/Tablets/Chromebooks (“Connected Devices”).
  • Window 1 and 2 combined demand for FY 2021-22 was $6.4 billion.
  • Highest discount rural applicants will receive first priority for funding if demand is more than available funds.

Yesterday, the FCC announced that there will be a third filing window (“Window 3”) for the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a federal program for accredited public libraries, which pays for hotspots, hotspot Internet service, and laptops/tablets/chromebooks (“Connected Devices”) for library patrons with an unmet need. Unmet need means that the patron does not have their own computer and Internet service at home that can be used for accessing library services.

The ECF application filing window opens April 28 and closes May 13, 2022. Funding can be used to pay for connected devices and Internet services during July 1, 2022, through December 31, 2023 (18 months). However, you can request no more than 12 months of service costs for Internet.  And, if you’ve participated in ECF before, the service period must be different from the months already paid for with Window 1 and 2 ECF funding. Windows 1 and 2 have a service period that ends June 30, 2023. Funding is available for up to 12 months and must end by June 30, 2023.

  • Windows 1 and 2 – services from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023 (only 12 months of service funded)
  • Window 3 – services from July 1, 2022, through December 31, 2023 (only 12 months of service funded)
  • Service Period overlap – 12 months from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023

Applicants who previously filed and obtained approval for ECF funding in Windows 1 and 2 will need to explain that their new requests in Window 3 are not duplicative of Window 1 and 2 funding. This will have to be explained in the narrative of each funding request.

As a practical matter, what does all this mean? Here are some preliminary take-aways and suggestions:

  • If you applied for Internet service for patrons during Windows 1 and 2 –
    • Figure out when the 12 month service period will end (depending on when the services are/were activated). Let’s call this “Window 1 and 2 service end date.”
      • Based on the Window 1 and 2 service end date, determine the number of remaining months through 12/31/2023 for which service is still needed.
      • If less than 12 months, apply for the number of remaining months of service costs.
      • If more than 12 months, you’re capped at asking for 12 months of additional funding.
  • If you applied for Connected Devices during Windows 1 and 2 –
    • Can you document that you have a new unmet need?  You can submit a request for additional Connected Devices.  But see the bullet below about limited funding.
  • If you did not apply during Window 1 and 2 for Internet or connected devices –
    • Did you buy these services and devices using other COVID relief money? If so, don’t apply for ECF because you’re not allowed to double dip with ECF and other COVID relief money.
    • If you still need to buy these services/devices, figure out unmet need and apply during Window 3.
  • Keep in mind that ECF demand was $6.4 billion for Windows 1 and 2. There is about $1 billion or so available for Window 3. 
    • If there is not enough money to fund all requests, rural applicants with a 90% E-rate discount will be first in line to receive funding.
      • Then urban 90% applicants are next in line.
      • Then rural 80% applicants are third in line.
      • Then urban 80% applicants are fourth in line.
      • And so on…..

If you have questions, please reach out to Henry Stokes at

(Special thanks to Debra M. Kriete, Esq., South Dakota E-rate Coordinator, for contributing to this post.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.