FCC Lifts E-rate Spending – Washington Reacts

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When the Federal Communications Commission takes a major action -- like modernizing the E-rate program -- there’s gonna be reaction.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “The Federal Communications Commission’s vote to further modernize the E-rate program ensures the program will continue to help our schools be part of the digital age. This is another huge step forward in our ConnectED Initiative’s work to provide high-speed internet access to schools and high-quality digital learning resources to teachers and students. We thank Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Rosenworcel, and Commissioner Clyburn for their tireless efforts on this issue, their partnership and commitment to our nation's students.”

There are two lawmakers left in Congress who were key in the creation of the E-rate program in 1996. Today’s action by the FCC is a tremendous win for the future of our youngest generation and all future generations,” said Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). “When I called upon the FCC to begin a process to strengthen E-Rate nearly two years ago, I knew that a cornerstone of that modernization effort would require additional funding for the program. That is why I have repeatedly called on the FCC to raise the permanent E-Rate cap. By increasing E-Rate’s cap by $1.5 billion, the FCC is making sure that schools and libraries will have access to broadband networks with next generation speeds and capacities.”

“Today’s historic vote at the FCC represents a win for our children, our economy, and our future,” said Sen Ed Markey (D-MA). “The E-Rate program is an essential part of our strategy to make our future workers best compete in the 21st century. By taking action today, the FCC officially commenced a bright new chapter for the already incredibly successful E-Rate program. The FCC’s vote will ensure that our schools and libraries achieve the connection speeds and Wi-Fi needed to connect fully with our interconnected world,” continued Senator Markey. “E-Rate will continue to ensure that students, whether from affluent communities or working-class neighborhoods, have the tools and skills necessary to succeed in our global economy.”

Rep Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, applauded the vote. "The FCC took a monumental step today to bring E-Rate into the 21st century. Funding for E-Rate was set during the days of dial-up Internet and in today’s digital world that level is simply inadequate. This boost will put into action a well-devised modernization plan to increase the presence of Wi-Fi in classrooms and bolster higher capacity Internet connections to our schools and libraries across the country. I applaud Chairman Wheeler for his leadership, and I salute Commissioner Rosenworcel, an early architect of E-Rate modernization who has visited schools nationwide to see firsthand how this program will benefit students. Her commitment to next-generation digital learning is unequaled at the Commission."

“The Federal Communications Commission’s historic approval to dramatically increase funding for the E-Rate program is a critical and much-needed win for America’s students and it makes for smart public policy,” said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García. “All of our students, regardless of their zip code, deserve access to the digital tools and the time to learn. Today’s action will go a long way to help level the digital playing field and ensuring equity. The first-ever significant increase in funding of the E-Rate Program will bring broadband to the communities that need it the most—students and educators in urban, rural, and low-density populated areas. More to the point, investing now in the E-Rate Program will pay off in the long run.”

American Library Association President Courtney Young said, “We are very pleased that the Commission, as ALA recommended, has removed restrictions that have prevented many libraries from getting the broadband they so desperately need. In addition, we applaud the Commission for recognizing our concerns regarding the funding shortage. Today, the FCC confirmed that it will add an additional $1.5 billion to the yearly program for libraries and schools. We congratulate the Commission for completing what amounts to re-engineering a 20th century telecommunications program and, after strategic review, reassembling it to make sure libraries can build and maintain the cutting edge networks that are the foundation for 21st century education, employment and entrepreneurship, community engagement, and individual empowerment.”

"The FCC's action today is a triumph for learning that reflects the world we live in and enables more personalized education. As we have seen year after year, America's classrooms do not have the needed technology infrastructure and related investments to cultivate learning environments that truly prepare students for college, career, and life. Today's vote paves that path for the current and next generation of America's youth,” said Consortium for School Networking CEO Keith Krueger.

“This is a landmark decision for our nation’s students and we commend Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Clyburn, and Commissioner Rosenworcel for their steadfast commitment to connecting millions of America’s students to the promise of digital learning,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “This bold plan of action will ensure the students of today are fully prepared to be the workforce and leaders of tomorrow.”

The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) commended the FCC for raising the cap of the E-Rate program to $3.9 billion. “We greatly appreciate and support the hard work of Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn in fighting for the future of E-Rate. Ensuring that enough funding is available and that it is equitably distributed to both rural and urban school and libraries that need the support is an important and cost-effective investment in America’s future and is a step towards ensuring that none of our children are left behind,” said NHMC’s policy director, Michael Scurato.

John Windhausen, Executive Director of the SHLB Coalition: “We are thrilled with the FCC’s decisions today to increase E-rate funding by $1.5 billion per year, address the needs of rural America, and encourage the deployment of fiber optic connections to the schools and libraries without access to fiber. Since its founding in 2009, the SHLB Coalition has worked extremely hard to promote affordable, high-speed, future-proof Internet services to community anchor institutions. Along with several rounds of filings and meetings with FCC officials, the SHLB Coalition also submitted a detailed study estimating the costs of deploying fiber to the remaining schools and libraries. We are extremely pleased that the FCC acted on our recommendations to reform the E-rate program to promote greater fiber investment and to give schools and libraries the additional option of constructing and owning their own networks. This investment will be especially critical in rural areas where access to fiber is often limited. We are also very pleased that the Commission corrected the definition of “rural” to allow more E-rate funding to flow to communities below 25,000 people. Affordable, high-bandwidth connections to the Internet promote learning, community engagement, and economic growth. This decision is a monumental step forward for school children, teachers, library patrons and the communities they serve.”

Statement (Sec Duncan) Statement (Sen Rockefeller) Statement (Sen Markey) NEA President: Historic new investment in E-Rate is a critical win for students (NEA) FCC E-rate action expands broadband opportunities for libraries (ALA) Statement (CoSN) EducationSuperHighway Applauds Historic Action by FCC to Connect All of America’s Students to High-Speed Broadband (EducationSuperHighway) Press release (Rep Eshoo) Press release (NHMC)