The Federal Communications Commission has a new $7 billion pot for schools to recoup the costs of paying for student and teacher access to broadband at home — and now the agency must figure out how to distribute the money. Here are six critical issues that companies keeping track of the FCC program should watch for:
1. What Devices and Services Will Be Eligible?
2. Will Purchases From 2020 Be Eligible?
3. How Will Procurement Work?
One of the main fears that school officials have about curtailing “net neutrality” is that internet service companies will have new powers to throttle or block the flow of online content that serves as academic lifeblood for many districts. But gauging whether those worries are justified or overblown requires a lot of speculation about industry behavior, and how it would apply to schools. Chris Lewis, a vice president of the advocacy group Public Knowledge, said dire scenarios envisioned by some school officials are not unrealistic.
Backers of a new plan to upend “net neutrality” policies tout the proposal as a free market approach to internet oversight—one that will encourage an abundance of web content delivery, innovation, and investment, with no more government regulation than is necessary. But some school officials and education organizations are deeply skeptical that the plan will protect educators’ access to online sources, or nurture innovation by K-12 entrepreneurs. In K-12 circles, two of the biggest worries about Pai’s proposal boil down to the following: