The FCC voted 3-2 on Friday to approve a five-year plan to increase Wi-Fi access and update the federal E-Rate program, which will result in an additional $2 billion being dedicated to increasing Wi-Fi in American classrooms and libraries over the next two years alone.
After the first two years, the FCC will reduce the amount of funding for non-broadband services, such as pagers and voice services, and re-invest that money into Wi-Fi—the plan also creates a new Wi-Fi bucket within the new category two (formerly priority two).
The FCC estimates that these changes will result in an additional 10 million students receiving access to Wi-Fi in their classrooms this year alone. And, according to the FCC's estimates, this increased funding will result in 3,238 additional Wisconsin schools and libraries receiving Wi-Fi funding over the next five years.
The FCC’s two Republican members objected to the plan due to its potential to increase phone bills and decrease funding for other E-rate services. They also raised concerns about the proposal’s method of determining funding allocations in the first two years by using a per-pupil and per-square footage formula.
In response to the two members concerns, Chairman Wheeler assured the Commission that this is just the beginning of modernizing the E-Rate program and that Wi-Fi funding was the focus of this proposal due to its ability to increase access in the current fiscal year.
The Washington Post: A watershed moment for technology in education