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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

WASHINGTON

OFFICE OF

August 11, 2014

THE CHAIRMAN

The Honorable Carl Levin

United States Senate

269 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Levin:

Thank you for your letter expressing concerns about modernizing theE-rate program. I

am deeply committed to ensuring that theE-rate program continues to serve the purpose for

which it was established and remains strong and sustainable well into the future. Your views are

very important and will be included in the record of the proceeding and considered as part of the

Commission's review.

In your letter, you urge the Commission to take into account the concerns raised by

national education organizations and organizations representing rural schools, as well as a recent

letter submitted by Senators Rockefeller and Markey. In addition, your letter expresses concerns

that modifying the E-rate distribution mechanism to one that provides funding based on a per-

student or per-square foot calculation for Wi-Fi would disadvantage rural schools and libraries.

TheE-rate Order adopted at the July Open Meeting is based upon comments received in

response to the 2013 E-rate Modernization Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. I can assure you the

views of these stakeholders were given full consideration, as were the suggestions of Senators

Rockefeller and Markey. In addition, we will continue to work with these organizations to meet

our mutual goal of increased access to high-speed broadband in our nation's schools and

libraries.

The Order takes significant steps to address the Wi-Fi gap in America's schools and

libraries, setting an annual funding target of $1 billion for Wi-Fi and establishing a fairer method

for distributing funds so that ALL schools and libraries can benefit, including far more rural

schools than in the past. This is an important step, given that 40 percent of classrooms are not

currently Wi-Fi-enabled, and nearly two-thirds of schools indicate that they do not have

sufficient Wi-Fi capacity to meet their digital learning needs. Prior to the July Order, E-rate was

able to support Wi-Fi funding requests for less than five percent of schools and one percent of

libraries. Over the next two years, the Commission's July Order will help up to 20 million

students and thousands of libraries gain access to Wi-Fi. At the same time, recognizing your

concerns, the Order ensures that adequate funding will be available for broadband connectivity

to schools and libraries before funding is made available for Wi-Fi. Also, the new Wi-Fi support

methodology has been established for the next two E-rate funding years as we continue to

evaluate the long-term funding needs of the program.

image02-00.jpg612x792

Page 2-The Honorable Carl Levin

With respect to your concerns on per-student funding, the Order establishes a multi-year

budget for internal connections services, such as Wi-Fi, that will serve our goal of ensuring

affordable access to high-speed broadband for schools and libraries as we continue to evaluate

long term program needs. Over the next two funding years, schools will be eligible for E-rate

funding on purchases of up to $150 (pre-discount) per student. Similarly, libraries may request

E-rate support of up to $2.30 (pre-discount) per square foot for internal connections services over

a five-year period, consistent with a recommendation by the American Library Association and

data submitted by numerous individual library systems. To ensure these budgets are sufficient to

meet the minimum demand that certain schools and libraries might have regardless of size, the

Order establishes a pre-discount funding floor of $9,200 for each school or library. These

figures are based on the best available data to the Commission and will continue to be assessed

over time. The accompanying Further Notice seeks further comment on the per-square foot and

per-student budgets for support of internal connections.

The Order is a critical next step in the E-rate modernization process. And we have

started this process in a responsible manner. We are targeting already available funds to meet

the greatest current needs, we are getting as much as we can out of every E-rate dollar, and we

are formally and expeditiously investigating the appropriate funding level for this program,

based upon the steps we have taken to improve the structure and administration of the program.

While the Order does not raise E-rate's funding cap, the item does contain a Further Notice of

Proposed Rulemaking that specifically asks for comment about long-term program funding

needs to meet the goals and funding targets established in the Order.

E-rate modernization is one of the most important issues before the Commission today.

We have an opportunity to make a real, positive difference in the lives of millions of students.

However, as the Order recognizes, more remains to be done in order to secure a sustainable

future for E-rate. As always, I look forward to working with you as we continue to modernize

this vital program.

Sincerely,

-:;;;;-/t(t

Tom Wheeler

image03-00.jpg612x792

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

WASHINGTON

OFFICE OF

August 11, 2014

THE CHAIRMAN

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow

United States Senate

133 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Stabenow:

Thank you for your letter expressing concerns about modernizing theE-rate program. I

am deeply committed to ensure that theE-rate program continues to serve the purpose for which

it was established and remains strong and sustainable well into the future.

Your views are very

important, and will be included in the record of the proceeding and considered as part of the

Commission's review.

In your letter, you urge the Commission to take into account the concerns raised by

national education organizations and organizations representing rural schools, as well as a recent

letter submitted by Senators Rockefeller and Markey. In addition, your letter expresses concerns

that modifying theE-Rate distribution mechanism to one that provides funding based on a per-

student or per-square foot calculation for Wi-Fi would disadvantage rural school and libraries.

TheE-rate Order adopted at the July Open Meeting is based upon comments received in

response to the 2013 E-rate Modernization Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. I can assure you the

views of these stakeholders were given full consideration, as were the suggestions of Senators

Rockefeller and Markey. In addition, we will continue to work with these organizations to meet

our mutual goal of increased access to high-speed broadband in our nation's schools and

libraries.

The Order takes significant steps to address the Wi-Fi gap in America's schools and

libraries, setting an annual funding target of $1 billion for Wi-Fi and establishing a fairer method

for distributing funds so that ALL schools and libraries can benefit, including far more rural

schools than in the past. This is an important step, given that 40 percent of classrooms are not

currently Wi-Fi-enabled, and nearly two-thirds of schools indicate that they do not have

sufficient Wi-Fi capacity to meet their digital learning needs. Prior to the July Order, E-rate was

able to support Wi-Fi funding requests for less than five percent of schools and one percent of

libraries. Over the next two years, the Commission's July Order will help up to 20 million

students and thousands oflibraries gain access to Wi-Fi. At the same time, recognizing your

concerns, the Order ensures that adequate funding will be available for broadband connectivity

to schools and libraries before funding is made available for Wi-Fi. Also, the new Wi-Fi support

methodology has been established for the next two E-rate funding years as we continue to

evaluate the long-term funding needs of the program.

image04-00.jpg612x792

Page 2-The Honorable Debbie Stabenow

With respect to your concerns on per-student funding, the Order establishes a multi-year

budget for internal connections services, such as Wi-Fi, that will serve our goal of ensuring

affordable access to high-speed broadband for schools and libraries as we continue to evaluate

long term program needs. Over the next two funding years, schools will be eligible for E-rate

funding on purchases of up to $150 (pre-discount) per student. Similarly, libraries may request

E-rate support of up to $2.30 (pre-discount) per square foot for internal connections services over

a five-year period, consistent with a recommendation by the American Library Association and

data submitted by numerous individual library systems. To ensure these budgets are sufficient to

meet the minimum demand that certain schools and libraries might have regardless of size, the

Order establishes a pre-discount funding floor of $9,200 for each school or library. These

figures are based on the best available data to the Commission and will continue to be assessed

over time. The accompanying Further Notice seeks further comment on the per-square foot and

per-student budgets for support of internal connections.

The Order is a critical next step in theE-rate modernization process. And we have

started this process in a responsible manner. We are targeting already available funds to meet

the greatest current needs, we are getting as much as we can out of every E-rate dollar, and we

are formally and expeditiously investigating the appropriate funding level for this program,

based upon the steps we have taken to improve the structure and administration of the program.

While the Order does not raise E-rate's funding cap, the item does contain a Further Notice of

Proposed Rule making that specifically asks for comment about long-term program funding

needs to meet the goals and funding targets established in the Order.

E-rate modernization is one of the most important issues before the Commission today.

We have an opportunity to make a real, positive difference in the lives of millions of students.

However, as the Order recognizes, more remains to be done in order to secure a sustainable

future for E-rate. As always, I look forward to working with you as we continue to modernize

this vital program.

Sincerely,

~4

Tom Wheeler

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