E-rate/Schools and Libraries Program

The American Rescue Plan is the broadband down payment the country needs

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 Butterfield Introduces Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act

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to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund (USF) programs by eliminating an outdated requirement that only internet service providers designated as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) may receive USF dollars.

Comcast Seeks E-Rate Waiver Regarding its Lift Zone Initiative

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

Advocates warn 'homework gap' likely to persist after pandemic

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

FCC to Launch $7.17 Billion Connectivity Fund Program

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.

How the homework gap may actually be the key to solving our digital divide

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

Homework gap: The digital divide crisis leaves millions of kids behind

The digital divide and the homework gap haven't gone away, even with new attention and funding directed toward emergency relief.

‘I Used to Like School’: An 11-Year-Old’s Struggle With Pandemic Learning

By one estimate, three million students nationwide, roughly the school-age population of Florida, stopped going to classes, virtual or in person, after the pandemic began.

Some kids never logged on to remote school. Now what?

Thousands of Connecticut’s students did not log onto remote classes, even after the state allotted tens of millions of federal aid dollars for its ambitious remote learning program. Many families didn’t take advantage of subsidized internet.

Creating an Emergency Connectivity Fund to Outlast the Pandemic

The recently-approved American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocated $7.171 billion to a new Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), an historic expansion of the E-rate program to connect students, teachers, and library patrons who lack home broadband access.