FCC to revisit eRate

By Dennis Pierce, Editor in Chief, @eSN_Dennis
July 19th, 2013

Simplifying the rules on fiber deployment is one of many areas the FCC is seeking comment on.

The Federal Communications Commission voted on July 19 to open a new rulemaking process aimed at updating and enhancing the federal eRate program, which currently provides $2.3 billion in telecommunications discounts to eligible schools and libraries.

The vote, which follows President Obama’s ConnectED proposal last month to enhance high-speed internet access for the nation’s schools, marks an important first step in transforming the program to meet current needs, advocates say.

“Only a little over one month since President Obama announced his bold agenda, we are encouraged by the FCC’s steps to make ‘ConnectED’ a reality in classrooms nationwide,” said Keith Krueger, chief executive officer of the Consortium for School Networking, in a statement.

“The sooner we raise the eRate’s annual cap and equip schools with increased bandwidth, the sooner students will reap the benefits of true 21st-century teaching and learning environments,” Krueger added. “This initiative moves our schools in that direction.”

The FCC’s action begins a thorough review and modernization of the eRate built around three goals, the agency said: increased broadband capacity, cost-effective purchasing, and streamlined program administration.

(Next page: More details about the FCC’s notice)