WASHINGTON, August 5, 2013 – At its open meeting on July 19, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would work to modernize the E-Rate program in order to provide greater bandwidth for schools and libraries.
Reforms to be implemented to the E-Rate program include the provision of affordable, high-capacity broadband for schools and libraries, the improvement of administrative efficiency and the maximization of cost-effectiveness in purchases. The agency also said it would work to improve its data collection methods in order to be able to more fairly allocate funding and phase out funding for outdated services so that more money can be allotted to investments that will increase bandwidth.
The changes were driven in part to meet the goals set out by President Barack Obama under his ConnectEd program. In June, Obama announced that he intends to ensure that 99 percent of schools have Gigabit-level broadband connections within the next five years.
FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said that schools and libraries currently have a severe lack in broadband speed. She said that half of schools in a 2010 FCC survey had a slower internet connection than the average home. Additionally, 41 percent of libraries reported that their internet speeds were insufficient to satisfy user demands in 2012.
Clyburn also said that adequate broadband connections can greatly improve the quality of education. She cited the example of Loris Elementary in South Carolina which, through provided students with laptops and educational software, moved from forty-first to the top twenty in a state ranking of similar schools.
“It doesn’t matter whether you live in a rural, low-income area or in a wealthy urban community, connecting a child to the Internet links them to cutting-edge instruction and new learning opportunities,” Clyburn said.