eRate changes spur debate

Stakeholders weigh in on eRate program’s future

e-rate-broadbandHundreds of eRate stakeholders made final efforts to show how critical high-speed broadband connections are for teaching and learning before a Sept. 16 deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC had asked for feedback on a variety of proposals to improve the eRate, so the $2.3 billion-a-year federal school wiring program can support President Obama’s plan to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband service within five years. Currently, the eRate meets only a small fraction of the network infrastructure needs of K-12 schools nationwide.

Citing 2013 data from its national Speak Up survey on ed-tech use, the nonprofit group Project Tomorrow outlined the need for action in its comments to the FCC: “… As demand increases for the use of more digital tools and content in the classroom, the vast majority of districts are facing a serious bandwidth capacity problem. Only 15 percent of school districts say that they have enough bandwidth capacity to support their instructional needs; and 71 percent of districts either have current problems with bandwidth issues or are concerned about the impact of implementing more digital content on their capacity.”…Read More