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Aurora Institute

E-Rate Update

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Susan Patrick

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Increase Access to Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission released a report on July 2nd of the potential impact of a pending proposal to modernize the federal E-Rate program to meet a pressing demand by the nation’s schools and libraries: robust connectivity to the Internet through Wi-Fi networks. The report provides a state-by-state breakdown of the estimated number of additional students, schools and libraries that would gain E-rate funding needed for Wi-Fi upgrades over the next five years under the proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Nationwide, the proposal would increase funding for Wi-Fi 75 percent for rural schools and 60 percent for urban schools, allowing an additional 44 million students and 16,000 libraries to have access to Wi-Fi services by 2019, all within existing program funding.

Chairman Wheeler stated, “Modernizing E-Rate to expand Wi-Fi connectivity in schools and libraries will empower students and library patrons to use the latest education technology to access new learning opportunities and infinite worlds of information.”

On July 11, 2014, the FCC will vote on an E-Rate modernization proposal that would dramatically increase support for Wi-Fi connections in schools and libraries. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler put forward this proposal as the first step in comprehensively modernizing the program. The proposal has three goals:

  • Close the Wi-Fi gap – get high-speed Internet to all classrooms and libraries by 2019.
  • Make the program rules fairer – ensure funding is available to the vast majority of schools and libraries, not just a few.
  • Maximize existing funds – streamline the program and make it faster, simpler, more efficient for all schools and libraries.

You may read a copy of the report HERE.