FCC plan would provide Internet service to 3,200 state schools, libraries
By of the Journal Sentinel
More than 3,200 Wisconsin schools and libraries could get wireless Internet service under a proposal to fund Wi-Fi access over the next five years, the Federal Communications Commission says.
The boost in Wi-Fi would cover nearly 851,000 students in the state, the FCC said in a proposal to spend $2 billion nationwide to get high-speed Internet to all classrooms and libraries by 2019.
Money for the E-Rate program comes from a fee that's charged on consumers' phone bills and is placed in what is called the Universal Service Fund. Last year, the government spent $8.2 billion from the fund, which has been used to subsidize phone and Internet service in rural states.
E-Rate, established in 1996, is the federal government's largest educational technology program.
Most schools and libraries lack robust Wi-Fi, according to the FCC.
"Despite the increasing need for wireless connectivity to support the latest digital learning tools like tablets and interactive textbooks, the E-Rate program currently provides limited support for Wi-Fi," the FCC said in its proposal, which is to be voted on by the agency's board July 11.
Nationwide, the proposal would increase funding for Wi-Fi 75% for rural schools and 60% for urban schools, allowing an additional 44 million students and 6,000 libraries to have access to the service.
This story will be updated throughout the day as details about the proposal become available.