Modernizing E-Rate: Providing 21st Century Wi-Fi in Schools, Libraries
Federal Communications Commission
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
July 1, 2014
Kim Hart, 202-418-8191
FCC RELEASES REPORT SHOWING STATE-BY-STATE IMPACTS OF E-RATE PROPOSAL TO
CLOSE WI-FI GAP IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES
E-Rate Modernization Proposal Would Help Upgrade Wi-Fi
for Nearly 44 Million Students and 16,000 Libraries Nationwide by 2019
Washington, DC – The Federal Communications Commission today released a report of the potential impact
of a pending proposal to modernize the federal E-Rate program to meet a pressing demand by the nation’s
schools and libraries: robust connectivity to the Internet through Wi-Fi networks. Three out of five schools in
America lack the wireless high-speed Internet – or Wi-Fi – to carry data at today’s broadband speeds.
The report provides a state-by-state breakdown of the estimated number of additional students, schools and
libraries that would gain E-rate funding needed for Wi-Fi upgrades over the next five years under the proposal
by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Nationwide, the proposal would increase funding for Wi-Fi
75 percent for rural schools and 60 percent for urban schools, allowing an additional 44 million students and
16,000 libraries to have access to Wi-Fi services by 2019, all within existing program funding.
“Technology has changed. The needs of schools and libraries have changed. The E-Rate program must reflect
these changes.” said Chairman Wheeler. “Modernizing E-Rate to expand Wi-Fi connectivity in schools and
libraries will empower students and library patrons to use the latest education technology to access new
learning opportunities and infinite worlds of information.”
Wi-Fi is the most cost-effective way to connect to the Internet at today’s speeds for individualized online
learning. Despite this incredible Wi-Fi connectivity gap, the E-rate program was unable to support any Wi-Fi
in 2014. When funds have been available for Wi-Fi in prior years, they have only reached about 5% of
schools and 1% of libraries. The proposal will help close the Wi-Fi gap by maximizing existing funds, and
ensuring funding is available to the vast majority of schools and libraries, not just a few.
The FCC’s E-rate program was established in 1996, and has become the federal government’s largest
education technology program, supporting Internet connectivity and other communications services for
schools and libraries. Since the program’s inception, it has successfully connected virtually all classrooms and
libraries to modern communications networks.
But as currently structured, the program provides limited support for Wi-Fi services, which students
increasingly need for individualized digital learning in school on tablets and interactive textbooks, and
libraries need to meet the exploding demand for high-speed Internet access by patrons on their own devices.
The Commission is tentatively set to vote on the E-rate modernization proposal at its Open Meeting on July
You can read a copy of the report here:
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