SIIA has been a strong voice in support of increasing funding for the E-Rate program, which provides high-need schools and libraries with discounts off their Internet infrastructure and access. SIIA today applauded The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for voting to approve a $1.5 billion permanent increase in the E-Rate program.
The E-Rate program has committed more than $40 billion in discounts to schools and libraries since its 1996 inception, but funding has been relatively flat at $2.25+ billion despite the increasing demand from schools and libraries that yearly exceeds the E-Rate cap. SIIA and other stakeholder organizations have advocated for increased funding to meet student and teacher needs.
High-speed broadband access is critical to enable students and teachers to access instructional resources, learning apps and online learning communities otherwise not available. Today’s decision to permanently increase the E-Rate cap will go a long way toward ensuring that all students can take advantage of educational opportunities in this digital age. We congratulate the FCC for recognizing that this funding is necessary for our students’ success and the nation’s competitiveness.
According to SIIA’s annual Vision K-20 educator survey, only 42% of educators report that there is ubiquitous online access through school wifi, and only 38% believe there is adequate bandwidth is provided for students to access digital instructional materials. And according to a recent infrastructure survey by CoSN (representing school CTOs) in partnership with AASA (The School Superintendents Association), only 41% of districts meet the FCC’s short-term goal of 100Mbps/1000 students in all schools, and 27% have no schools with this access. Meanwhile, 68% of all school districts do not have a single school that could meet the FCC’s long-term connectivity goal of 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps).
Mark Schneiderman is Senior Director of Education Policy at SIIA.