May 8, 2014 — Washington, D.C. – A record level of early financial support for broadband in schools and libraries has been approved by the E-rate program, the Federal Communications Commission’s program for supporting communications services in these institutions.
Reflecting a dedicated effort by the FCC to get critical funding for broadband to schools and libraries as quickly as possible, the $450 million in funding commitments for broadband is six times the amount approved at this time last year by USAC, the program administrator. Including other communications services, USAC committed a total of $607 million in support in the first wave of funding for 2014.
“Now more than ever, students and teachers rely on broadband Internet access to stay ahead of the educational curve,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “And in libraries across the country, patrons are tapping into broadband networks to find jobs, do research, launch businesses, and access community services. It is essential for the FCC to quickly and efficiently deliver the support that these institutions need to maintain and improve broadband service.”
Funded projects include:
- A statewide consortium in Maine will provide gigabit fiber connections to 28 library sites, which will support use of technology to help close the long distances in this large rural state.
- In Indiana, E-rate will help support 2.5 Gigabit Internet access for 21 sites near Indianapolis in the Warren Township Metropolitan School District, which has a 71 percent poverty rate. The district is using digital learning technologies to individualize education for students, and has increased its graduation rate by 12 percentage points over the last 5 years.
- Search other funding commitments on USAC’s web site at http://www.usac.org/sl/tools/commitments-search/Default.aspx
The FCC has initiated a full review of E-rate to modernize the program. This revitalization is focusing on increasing connectivity to high-capacity broadband, increasing competitive opportunities for schools and libraries to get the best service at an affordable rate, and cutting red tape.