E-Rate Undergoing Major Policy, Budget Upgrades
1/7/2015 3:21 PM
Federal officials have dramatically overhauled the E-rate program to prioritize expanded support for broadband and wireless connectivity, through the approval of a series of changes that have been widely hailed by education, library, technology, and industry groups as much needed and long overdue.
The capstone came last month, when the Federal Communications Commission approved a $1.5 billion annual funding increase for the program, which subsidizes schools' and libraries' purchases of telecommunications services.
"The increase in support is significant. It is justified. And it is smart," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement accompanying the decision. "In the 18 years since the E-rate was established, technology has evolved, the needs of students and teachers have changed, and basic connectivity has become inadequate."
The commission voted to raise the E-rate's annual spending cap from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion and approved a series of potentially significant rule changes in a contentious 3-2 vote Dec. 11 that broke down along partisan lines. Those moves followed the FCC's July decision to overhaul the mechanics of the E-rate to prioritize broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity while phasing out support for older technologies. Click Here to Read More....