My education in E-rate continued as I spoke to professionals who had worked for the FCC and state libraries where their job was to help communities work through the E-rate system. It amazed me that someone could spend an entire career working to sort through the complexities of these E-rate applications. When the community of Port Lions decided to move forward to try to bring fiber optic cable to the library I knew we would have a lot to learn!
The community of Port Lions has been working to help bring this much-needed broadband resource to their village. Their school will shut down this coming year due to declining numbers of students and the children will rely on the library as a resource now, more than ever. Parents that will homeschool will need to learn how to navigate the school district’s online system. This is an abrupt and unexpected hurdle for many parents in Port Lions who have always had the help of the school to aid in the education of the children in the village. The library will serve as an invaluable resource to help the community adapt to the change.
AMERIND Critical Infrastructure is helping Port Lions to work through the rigorous details of this kind of proposal. Their mission is to help tribes connect their communities to broadband. They help by lending their expert staff’s assistance to communities that would not otherwise have the human resources or the expertise needed to work through a proposal for E-rate funding for build out of broadband infrastructure.
There is always a lot to learn when you try to solve difficult problems. Working through the E-rate system is difficult but, luckily there are experts who can help solve these problems. For small communities trying to connect to broadband, it may continue to remain difficult. This is because the community must reach-out and seek outside help to receive the support they need to connect their schools and libraries to E-rate funded broadband. However, if the hard work is done, it is possible to make broadband a reality for even very small remote communities.