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May 16,2014


The Honorable Richard Neal

U.S. House of Representatives

2208 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Neal:

Thank you for your letter on behalf of your constituent, Mr. Daniel Warwick, the

Superintendent of Springfield, Massachusetts Schools, regarding the inability of the Schools and

Libraries universal support mechanism (theE-rate program) to provide financial support for

"priority two" services for the current 2013 funding year. I understand your concerns regarding

the impact of the denial of funding for internal connections, particularly for school districts with

a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, such as those in Springfield.

Funding for the E-rate program is capped at approximately $2.4 billion per year. Under

the current rules, E-rate funds are allocated according to rules of priority, with first priority

provided to requests for telecommunications services and Internet access (priority one services).

Any funds remaining after funding requests for priority one services are allocated to requests for

support for internal connections and basic maintenance of internal connections (priority two

services). For funding year 2013, insufficient funds were available to fund priority two services.

As a result none of the applicants, including Springfield Schools, that sought priority two

funding in funding year 2013 received such support.

TheE-rate program's current inability to ensure predictable funding for Wi-Fi and other

internal connections is one of the key issues I am seeking to address as we take steps to

modernize theE-rate program. In order to help provide our students with a 21st century

education, it is essential that were-prioritize program resources to focus on high-speed

broadband connectivity both to schools and libraries and within schools and libraries. One of the

specific objectives I have in modernizing the program is to ensure that all schools and libraries

have predictable funding for Wi-Fi connectivity. Schools and libraries should not have to be in a

wait-and-see mode about the availability of funding for Wi-Fi connections, as is the case today.

My goal is for the Commission to adopt an Order this summer that would implement

fundamental structural and administrative changes, the results of which would go into effect in

FY 2015. We need to ensure that the E-rate program supports the high-capacity broadband

needed to give our students access to 21st century educational opportunities, while


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The Honorable Richard Neal

simultaneously improving the efficiency and administration of the program and establishing

explicit program goals and measurements.

I appreciate your interest in this matter. Please let me know if I can be of any further


Tom Wheeler

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