Information for Schools and Libraries on the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act

This page focuses on sections of the Telecommunications Act that are of most interest to the school and library communities. These are (1) provisions for broadening Universal Service more specifically known as the E-rate, and (2) the Communications Decency section of the act incorporating language prohibiting transmission to minors of "indecent" information over the Internet. Some of the sites linked below have information of historical interest only.

General Information | Universal Service | Communications Decency Act

General Information On The Telecommunications Act

The section below contains links to the full text of the act and other related documents including reviews and critiques of the act.

Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Text version - PDF version.

This is the text of the whole act.

FCC Information On The Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The main FCC page on the act.

FCC Report on Implementation of the Telecommunications Act.

Of historical interest. A cumulative report of all actions taken since February 8, 1996, by the FCC to implement the Act.

General Information | Universal Service | Communications Decency Act

Information On Universal Service (US) or E-rate

On May 7, 1997 the FCC released its ruling on Universal Service, popularly known as the E-rate. The sites immediately below are related to the actions on Universal Service by the FCC and subsequent follow-up activities.

FCC Universal Service Home Page.

The FCC page on US activities. Includes any recent rulings and orders. See especially their schools and libraries section.

Schools and Libraries Division(SLD).

The SLD has been established by the FCC to manage the E-rate program. The SLD is part of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

E-Rate Central.

Good site from New York State that provides schools and libraries with a wealth of E-rate information.

Wisconsin's FCC E-rate Page.

Provides information of interest to Wisconsin's school and library communities.

ALA - Universal Service / E-rate.

Page on E-rate activities from the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy.

The sites below provide more background information on Universal Service. Some of this information is of historical interest only.

Universal Service section of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

This is the section with language related to libraries and schools.

Report & Order In the Matter of Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service.

This site has the complete FCC order available in several formats.

Schools and Library Section from the FCC's Universal Service Report & Order. (311K)

This is from the the FCC's Report & Order referenced immediately above. It incorporates the ERRATA released by the FCC on June 4th.

Universal Service: Final Order. (324K PDF file)

This is the official version of the order published in the Federal Register V. 62, No. 116 Tuesday, June 17, 1997 pp. 32862-32911 (47 CFR Parts 36, 54, and 69).

Commission Implements Telecom Act's Universal Service Provisions.

This is the FCC's detailed news release on its US actions.

FAQ on Universal Service and the Snowe-Rockefeller Amendment.

A good 40 question FAQ from the FCC that clarifies some of the issues and questions related to the May 7 Order. This amendment is named for the chief sponsors of the Universal Service Section (254 (h) of the act.


The FCC's informal education page that has information on the E-rate.

Report to the FCC by The E-Rate Implementation Working Group.

This report to the FCC incorporates recommendations on (1) the design of E-rate application forms, and (2) alternative measures for the required approval of technology plans as part of the application process.

National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA).

NECA is the interim US fund administrator. They will establish the Website where schools and libraries will post requests (bids) for services.

Joint Board Adopts Universal Service Recommendations.

This is the FCC official press release.

Recommended Decision of the Federal-State Jt. Board on Universal Service.

This is the Joint Board's recommendations on discounts for schools and libraries. Available is various formats.

Senate Universal Service Hearing,
March 12, 1997.

From the hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Includes testimony of participants in WP format.

The Next Generation of Universal Service: Recommendations of the Joint Board on Universal Service.

Good resource that gives a good summary of the Joint Board's recommendations.


The Education and Libraries Networks Coalition (EdLiNC) was formed to represent the views of schools and libraries in the FCC proceedings dealing with the Telecom. Act, especially the Universal Service Provisions of the Act.

NTIA Comments to the FCC on Universal Service.

This is the official NTIA reply to the Federal-State Joint Board's recommendations on US.

Preparation for Addressing Universal Service Issues: A Review of Current Interstate Support Mechanisms.

Lengthy report from the FCC. The primary purpose of this report is to facilitate the review of support mechanisms that the conferees intended be undertaken by providing regulators and interested parties with background information regarding many of the current interstate support mechanisms, both explicit and implicit. (Feb. 1996)

General Information | Universal Service | Communications Decency Act

Information On The Communications Decency Act (CDA)

Note: For information on the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), passed by Congress in December 2000, see the ALA's CIPA page.

Below is information on the Communications Decency Act (CDA). This is Title V, the Obscenity and Violence part of the Telecommunications Act. In a decision announced June 26, 1997 the Supreme Court found the CDA unconstitutional. The organizations immediately below generally have follow-up information on this issue. See also the section below for specific sites on the latest CDA before the US Supreme Court.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU is the nation's foremost advocate of individual rights -- litigating, legislating, and educating the public on a broad array of issues affecting individual freedom in the US.

Center For Democracy and Technology (CDT).

CDT is a nonprofit public interest organization whose mission is to develop and advocate public policies that advance constitutional civil liberties and democratic values in new computer and communications technologies.

Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC).

Very good site. CIEC is a broad coalition of Internet users, including ALA, that filed a lawsuit against the CDA on February 26, 1996.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The EFF is a nonprofit civil liberties organization working in the public interest to protect privacy, free expression, and access to online resources and information. See especially their Blue Ribbon Campaign against the CDA.

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

EPIC is a public interest research center focusing public attention on emerging civil liberties issues relating to the National Information Infrastructure. See especially their section on the CDA.

The CDA and the Supreme Court

The sites below are related to the CDA case. The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC) is probably the single best site to get information on this case and related issues. ALA is a member of the CIEC coalition.

Supreme Court Rules CDA Unconstitutional.

This is from CIEC, the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition and includes press releases and statements from various groups and individuals. CIEC also has the Syllabus of the decision.

Text of the Supreme Court decision.

Includes links to related cases too.

Reno v. ACLU: Transcript of Oral Arguments before the Supreme Court.

This is a transcript via RealAudio.

US Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in the fight for free speech online.

CIEC newsletter summarizing the oral arguments before the court. See also the CIEC March 19 press release.

CIEC Supreme Court Brief.

Full text of the brief filed before the Supreme Court on February 20 (111k). See also their Trial Bulletin on the brief.

ACLU Brief.

Full text of ACLU brief filed February 20 (105k). See also their press release on the brief.

US Dept. of Justice Supreme Court Brief.

Full text of the Dept. of Justice brief filed before the Supreme Court on January 21 (96k).

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear CDA Challenge.

This is from the CIEC Update No. 16, December 6, 1996.

CDA Background Information

Congress Passes Online Indecency Bill.

A review of the "indecency" language in the CDA. From the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT).

Communications Decency Act.

Good page with links to many related documents and pages. From the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Background on the Lawsuit.

Succinct background information on the suit from CIEC. Also provides a wealth of links to the initial CDA appeal before the federal court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Legal Challenge to Internet Censorship.

Good resource from the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

General Information | Universal Service | Communications Decency Act

If you have comments or additions for this list, please let us know.

January 2001

For questions about this information, contact John DeBacher (608) 267-9225