School Bus Wi-Fi E-rate Eligible in FY 2024

November 1, 2023

~ No details yet ~

~ FCC seeking public comment ~

The FCC has approved Wi-Fi service and related equipment on school buses as E-rate eligible beginning in Funding Year 2024.  This will come as especially welcome news to the 29 PA schools/districts that received ECF funding for school bus Wi-Fi equipment and services which is set to expire June 2024.

Most details are not yet known.  For example, will there be a competitive bidding requirement?  How will leased buses or contracted busing services be treated when the buses are not owned by the school?  Will the E-rate forms be modified?  Therefore, I encourage you to begin considering whether your school would like to apply for E-rate discounts on this service, but do not file any Form 470’s or sign any new contracts yet.

A revised draft Eligible Services List (ESL) has been released, seeking public comment through November 24, 2023 on several specific questions and overall implementation:

  • What equipment, such as antennas, routers, modems and other equipment, will be needed to provide Wi-Fi on buses?
  • The service will be Category 1.  Should the related equipment be Category 1 if this equipment is necessary to make the Category One mobile broadband service functional?
  • Should any additional equipment and/or services be eligible for support to provide Wi-Fi on school buses, and if so, under which category of service?
  • What restrictions or limitations should be imposed to ensure the service is used primarily for educational purposes?
  • Should use be limited to only students and school staff?  What types of measures are currently being implemented by existing bus Wi-Fi schools to limit access to student and school staff users?
  • Is the FCC’s estimate of $1840 per bus/year accurate?  If not, what are actual costs schools are paying?
  • Should there be discounts on services during the summer months when school buses may be seldom used?
  • Should existing contracts be grandfathered in and be exempt from the E-Rate competitive bidding requirements if applicants have entered into multi-year contracts for these services through the Emergency Connectivity Fund program?
  • Should schools be permitted to park E-rate-funded Wi-Fi-enabled buses when not in use and allow community access?

I have already reached out to several schools and IUs to seek information related to many of these issues and will be meeting with the FCC in the coming weeks to discuss our needs and experiences.  We may not know answers to many of these questions until mid-late December at the earliest.  In the meantime, please e-mail me if you have questions related to your specific situations (I won’t know the answers, but I’ll compile and try to get answers in the final rules).


– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

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