Tuesday, July 23, 2013

FCC Revitalizes E-Rate Program for Schools and Libraries

The FCC has kicked off a review and modernization of the E-rate program built around three goals: increased broadband capacity, cost-effective purchasing, and streamlined program administration.

E-rate was established in 1997 and represents the federal government's largest education technology program. To date, the E-rate program has successfully connected virtually all U.S. schools and libraries (97% of U.S. classrooms) to the Internet.

However, according to a 2010 survey of E-rate applicants, half had slower connection speeds than the average American home and 39% cited cost of service as the greatest barrier to better meeting their needs
And according to a recent American Library Association survey, one quarter of libraries still have broadband speeds of 1.5 Mbps or less, and only 9 percent of libraries have speeds of 100 Mbps or greater.

The FCC said these findings point to a growing consensus that E-rate needs to be updated and revitalized with a renewed focus on ensuring that all schools and libraries have affordable access to high-capacity


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