FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 27, 2023
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Laura Strimple, (402) 580-9495
John Gage, (531) 510-8529
Governor Pillen Promotes Broadband Connections During National Library Week
CLAY CENTER, NE – Today, Governor Jim Pillen, together with the Nebraska Library Commission, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC), the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT), and the Clay Center Library, highlighted the Nebraska E-rate Special Construction State Matching Grant Program as an opportunity to further connect Nebraskans by incentivizing new broadband fiber construction to state libraries.
“Reliable and fast broadband internet connection is an essential component to quality of life,” said Governor Pillen. “Internet access impacts work force, education, public health, economic development, and public safety. Schools and libraries serve as the centers of communities and ensuring those institutions are connected to fiber is a priority for the State of Nebraska. These fiber-optic based networks will provide connectivity to resources and expand reach and access to Nebraskans.”
The federal E-rate program provides discounts ranging from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services based on 1) the percentage of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program in the school district in which the library is located, and 2) the urban or rural location of the library, based on U.S. Census data.
The state program is designed to maximize federal funds by providing up to 10% in matching support to Nebraska Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (NETCs) to connect E-rate eligible entities with fiber where there is no existing fiber connection. The Nebraska E-rate Special Construction State Matching Grant Program (NUSF-117), administered by the PSC, was established in May 2020 and has allocated $1 million to facilitate the build-out of new fiber to Nebraska libraries and schools participating in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) E-rate Special Construction Program.
To best serve the needs of stakeholders, the PSC is seeking comments on its E-rate Special Construction Matching Funds program, including whether modifications should be made, what services are supported and whether existing funding is sufficient or needs to be increased. Libraries can learn more about the proposed enhancements and provide comment by visiting the E-rate Special Construction page of the PSC website and clicking on the NUSF-117 P.O.#1 link.
“In our commitment to deployment of fiber optic internet to all Nebraska libraries, we applaud the work of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Governor Pillen’s leadership on these issues,” said Nebraska Library Commissioner Director Rod Wagner. “We encourage all Nebraska libraries to provide comments to the PSC during this open comment period.”
“I’m thankful for the financial assistance of the Nebraska E-rate Special Construction State Matching Grant program to install fiber at our library. We have participated in the federal E-rate program for 24 years,” said Clay Center Public Library, Director Cheryl Green. “These programs enable libraries to provide unlimited online resources, using reliable high-speed digital broadband. I encourage other Nebraska libraries to participate in the Nebraska E-rate Special Construction State Matching Grant program to install fiber-optic connectivity at their library.”
Libraries and schools are encouraged to participate in the process by providing comment responses to questions posed in the NUSF-117 P.O.1 docket. Initial comments may be filed on or before Friday, May 26, at 5 p.m. (CT) and reply comments may be filed on or before Friday, June 16, at 5 p.m. (CT) by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our state libraries help to keep our communities connected,” said PSC District 4 Commissioner Eric Kamler. “Through the State E-rate program, we can help provide support for new fiber construction to these essential public institutions.”
The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.