Improving high-speed internet access for schools and libraries by 2018 is one of President Obama's second-term goals, and updating E-Rate will be crucial to its success. According to the FCC's rulemaking request, the E-rate program is vital for the "operation of modern schools and libraries." And it lays out the following goals for modernizing the program:
The FCC would like comments on how to best achieve these goals and how to best measure the success of each goal.(1) Ensuring schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st Century broadband that supports digital learning;(2) Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of E-rate funds; and(3) Streamlining the administration of the E-rate program.
One of the FCC's proposals is to focus E-rate funds on supporting broadband to and within schools and libraries; they ask for comments on how to support connectivity within schools and libraries, which services to phase out (such as voice and paging services) in order to maximize funding on broadband and input on modifying the discount matrix. The FCC also seeks comment on "the percent of schools and libraries that do not have the necessary equipment to provide high-capacity broadband connectivity within schools, and the amount it would cost to provide high-capacity broadband connectivity within such schools and libraries."
Detailed objectives for achieving the three stated goals can be found beginning on page 18 (goal one), 48 (goal two) and 59 (goal three) of this document.
Ask the FCC to raise the E-Rate funding cap so that schools and libraries can meet their bandwidth needs. The Ed Tech Action Network has an excellent draft comment example for anyone interested in submitting comments.
To submit your comments, click here and identify 13-184 as the proceeding number in the first box.