Wi-Fi on Buses – Summary Overview

Mobile broadband connectivity for school buses is eligible as a Category One Internet Access service starting in FY2024.  Installation Fees and Equipment needed to make this wireless service for school buses functional are also eligible in this category. Separate maintenance and operations services related to mobile broadband connectivity for school buses are not eligible. The Wireless bullet on the FY2024 ESL was modified to clarify this new eligibility, from: “Wireless (e.g. fixed wireless, microwave)” to: “Wireless (e.g., fixed wireless; microwave; or mobile service for use on school buses)”.

Eligible Services

  • Mobile service for use on school buses
  • Equipment needed to make this wireless service for school buses functional, like:
    • Antennas,
    • Routers, including portable school bus Wi-Fi routers
      • Note: this excludes Wi-Fi hotspots
    • Modems
  • Installation

Eligible Vehicles

School bus Wi-Fi services are eligible for buses that are school-owned, as well as leased or contracted school buses, provided that the school buses are used primarily to transport students to and from school or school-related activities for educational purposes as defined by FCC rules.

Ineligible Vehicles

Occasionally used chartered buses (e.g., used for school field trips), municipal and city buses generally used for the transport of non-students, and other types of school-owned, leased, or contracted vehicles (e.g., vans and cars) are ineligible. Chartered, municipal, or city buses are also ineligible.


  • Equipment and services must primarily be utilized for educational purposes as defined by E-Rate rules.
  • Content and network restrictions should be implemented consistent with those placed on building-based broadband networks.
    • This includes, but is not limited to, Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) and other school policies that limit network access and Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)-required content filtering capabilities.
  • Wi-Fi should only be active during school bus normal operating hours (i.e., when students are being transported to and from school or school-related activities) or when there is a clear educational purpose for enabling school bus Wi-Fi connections outside of these hours.
    • Bus Wi-Fi service must be disabled outside of these hours and cannot be utilized for community use purposes.
  • Bus security cameras are ineligible for E-Rate support.
    • Similarly, service dedicated to a security camera’s use is ineligible. Regarding the incidental service use by a security camera, in FCC 23-56, paragraph 26 provided clarification and the FCC adopted a presumption that if at least 90% of an applicant’s requested Internet service is being used for eligible purposes (here, school bus Wi-Fi used for educational purposes), the remaining ineligible use of the Internet service will be presumed to be ancillary and cost allocation would not be required.
  • Portable school bus Wi-Fi equipment is only eligible when used on a school bus for educational purposes (e.g., transporting students to and from school and school-related activities). Portable school bus Wi-Fi equipment includes portable routers, but excludes Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Separate maintenance and operations services related to mobile broadband connectivity for school buses are not eligible.

Multiple Service Providers

Schools may enter into agreements with multiple providers to the extent that some buses are served by one provider, and other buses by a different provider. Buses in rural areas may be more likely to cross between service areas of multiple service providers along the same bus route. Rural applicants may select a solution that allows a bus to be served by multiple providers. However, such schools still must select the most cost-effective service offering(s) using price of the eligible equipment and services as the primary factor consistent with program rules. Schools and school districts can check their urban/rural status here.

Competitive Bidding

School bus Wi-Fi is subject to all existing E-Rate rules and requirements, including those related to competitive bidding, cost allocation, and discounting rules. Applicants who entered into multi-year agreements for Bus Wi-Fi in the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program are not exempt from competitive bidding requirements. Service provider selection must be consistent with E-Rate program rules including selecting the most cost-effective service offering(s), and using price of the eligible equipment and services as the primary factor in the evaluation matrix.

Seeking Bids

USAC released an article on how to seek bids for Wi-Fi on school buses in FY2024, available here:

Because the FY2024 FCC Form 470 has not changed since USAC posted it in July 2023, applicants seeking bids for Wi-Fi on buses should use the following drop-downs:

  • Select “Category 1 -– Data Transmission and/or Internet Access” in the Service Requests section under Category(s) of Service.
  • You will be required by EPC to upload a Request for Proposal (RFP)* document, so select YES under RFPs for Service Requests.
  • Add a narrative (e.g., “Applicant seeks bids for wireless school bus service and (if applicable) associated equipment to make the service functional to provide Wi-Fi. Reference the associated “RFP” document for additional information.”).
  • Add a new service request, selecting the following EPC guiding statements in sequential order:
    • I seek bids for internet access and/or data transmission service.
    • I seek bids for Internet access and data transmission service (provided over any combination of transmission medium, e.g., fiber-only networks, fiber/non-fiber hybrid networks, or non-fiber networks such as cable, DSL, copper, satellite, or microwave).
    • I seek bids for data plans or wireless adapters (Air Cards) for mobile devices for commercial wireless service for a school or library that does not have an existing broadband internal connections.
  • Provide remaining details like quantity and entities.

You are not required to provide an request for proposals (RFP) pursuant to the FCC rules, but you will need to upload a document to be able to certify and submit your FCC Form 470 in EPC. You may use this document upload feature to include basic information needed for a vendor to provide a response to your request for wireless school bus service and/or equipment, including the number of buses being outfitted or whether the applicant is seeking service only for existing equipment. You are also strongly encouraged to provide geographic location/route information of the buses along with the service requirements for the bus route(s). This should help mitigate service area limitations that may be vendor specific.