E-rate/Schools and Libraries Program
Lisa Hone, a longtime Federal Communications Commission attorney with deep expertise in broadband policy, has joined the National Economic Council team to steer the Biden administration's broadband expansion efforts. Hone's primary focus is ensuring that money Congress allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act is spent appropriately. Hone, who officially started her job as senior adviser for broadband and technology policy the week of May 31, is now the White House's point person on broadband deployment efforts happening across the government.
In Spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to hybrid and remote learning for most schools turned what was once a “homework gap” into a “learning opportunity gap” as devices and internet access became necessary in order to keep students connected and learning. The purpose of this brief is to present strategies for deploying off-campus wireless networks as a sustainable solution to provide home connectivity to all students and educators. This brief shows how school districts have taken diverse approaches to build off-campus wireless networks.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act offer billions of broadband-related dollars to reduce consumer prices, build out network infrastructure, and fund digital skills programming. How should state and local leaders balance it all? We recommend a two-phase strategy.
Rep G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-01) introduced the Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act (HR 3376) to increase access to and speed the deployment of broadband to households and small businesses currently without this vital service. The bill will enable more broadband service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund (USF) programs by eliminating an outdated requirement that only internet service providers designated as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) may receive USF dollars.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau seeks comment on a petition for waiver filed by Comcast requesting that the FCC waive certain E-Rate rules to allow it to conduct a pilot program with several libraries to expand its “Lift Zone” initiative. Comcast states that its Lift Zone initiative is designed to address the Homework Gap and the digital divide by setting up safe places where students and members of the community may use Internet services to participate in remote learning and complete homework assignments. Comcast proposes to partner with seven selected l
The digital divide in education that was exposed by remote learning during the pandemic is likely to persist even when students return to classrooms, advocates warn. While efforts are underway to provide students with adequate internet access, advocates say the problem is unlikely to go away in the fall because remote learning will not completely go away when in-person classes resume. Advocates say that closing the digital divide requires building out infrastructure. Amina Fazlullah, director of equity policy at Common Sense Media, said infrastructure spending is needed to help bridge the d
The Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted final rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.17 billion program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Report and Order establishes the rules and policies governing the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.
Beyond supporting students, information being collected by schools across the country could prove useful when addressing the problem of the digital divide. The work to close the so-called homework gap, exacerbated when the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools and forced 50 million students to suddenly adopt remote learning, could also provide the federal and state governments a roadmap toward fixing the broader digital divide problem. The homework gap is a subset of a much larger d
The digital divide and the homework gap haven't gone away, even with new attention and funding directed toward emergency relief.