Remarks Of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel at Chief Officers Of State Library Agencies Meeting

I want to discuss efforts at the Federal Communications Commission that involve libraries. Specifically, I want to talk about our efforts to reboot, reinvigorate, and recharge E-Rate -- or what I like to call E-Rate 2.0. And before I finish, I want to talk about another hot topic before the FCC -- our efforts on network neutrality.

The E-Rate program, as some of you may know, is the nation’s largest educational technology program -- and it’s run by the FCC. E-Rate helps connect all of our schools and libraries to modern communications and the Internet. Our records suggest that 80 percent of schools and libraries believe their broadband connections do not meet their current needs. Eighty percent! So let’s be honest. Those needs are only going to grow.

Nationwide, in nearly two-thirds of communities, libraries are the only place people can access the Internet for free. Libraries have reported to the FCC that every year they see more and more requests to use public access computers and get online. Moreover, more and more information resources are headed to libraries in digital format, putting more pressure than ever before on bandwidth. Plus, for those who lack access to broadband at home, libraries are a lifeline. Because access to broadband is access to opportunity.

Access to broadband in libraries means access to jobs. Consider this -- 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies now require those seeking jobs to apply online. Access to broadband in libraries means access to education. Access to broadband in libraries also means access to information -- for all.

But if we want to keep up and make sure our libraries have the bandwidth necessary to support this opportunity, we need a revitalized E-Rate. We need E-Rate 2.0. There are three essential elements of E-Rate reform: Speed, Simplify, and Spending Smart.

Now I want to end by briefly talking about something else that is before the FCC -- network neutrality. I have real concerns about FCC Chairman Wheeler’s proposal on network neutrality -- which is before the agency right now. His proposal has unleashed a torrent of public response.

Tens of thousands of e-mails, hundreds of calls, commentary all across the Internet. We need to respect that input and we need time for that input. So while I recognize the urgency to move ahead and develop rules with dispatch, I think the greater urgency comes in giving the American public opportunity to speak right now, before we head down this road.

For this reason, I think we should delay our consideration of his rules by a least a month. I believe that rushing headlong into a rulemaking fails to respect the public response to his proposal.

Remarks Of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel at Chief Officers Of State Library Agencies Meeting F.C.C. Commissioner Asks for Delay on New Net Neutrality Rules (NYTimes)