FCC expanding access to high-capacity Internet in schools and libraries

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 8, 2014

“The FCC’s E-rate program is the government’s program for connecting the nation’s schools and libraries to broadband.  It is the government’s largest educational technology program.  When E-rate was established in 1996, only 14 percent of the nation’s K-12 classrooms had access to the Internet. Today, virtually all schools and libraries have Internet access. But learning is changing.  Innovative digital learning technologies and the growing importance of the Internet in connecting students, teachers, and consumers to jobs, life-long learning, and information, are creating increasing demand for bandwidth in schools and libraries.  In an FCC survey of E-rate recipients, nearly half of respondents reported lower speed Internet connectivity than the average American home – despite having, on average, 200 times as many users. The FCC began updating E-rate in 2010, and is now initiating a full review to modernize the program. This revitalization is centered around three proposed goals:

  • Increased connectivity to high-capacity broadband
  • Efficient purchasing through bulk buying, consortia, and competitive bidding improvements
  • Cutting red tape to speed, streamline, and increase transparency in application reviews

Modernizing E-rate is critical for the future of our children and our citizens. We encourage all to comment on the reform proposals so that we can ensure that schools and libraries have affordable access to the high-speed broadband they need – in the most effective, efficient way possible.”

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