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August 11, 2014


The Honorable Bob Goodlatte

U.S. House of Representatives

2309 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Goodlatte:

Thank you for your letter expressing concerns about modernizing the E-rate program. In

your letter, you urge the Commission to continue funding web hosting as a priority one service

within theE-rate program and raise concerns that adopting a single flat rate ofE-rate funding per

student or per square foot may disadvantage rural school and libraries. Your views are very

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

Commission's review.

Schools need broadband connectivity to take advantage of digital learning technologies,

and libraries need to provide their patrons with high-speed access to the Internet. TheE-rate

program is critical to ensure that our nation's schools and libraries can meet their connectivity

needs. I recognize the E-rate program has previously supported a variety of services, such as

web hosting. However, I firmly believe that, in order to meet educational needs, theE-rate

program must place a priority on ensuring that every school in America has a high-speed

broadband connection and high-speed Wi-Fi in every classroom. Unfortunately, meeting that

goal has meant redirecting funds previously spent on other activities, such as web hosting.

TheE-Rate Modernization Order adopted by the Commission at our July Open Meeting

takes significant steps to address the Wi-Fi gap in America's schools today. 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, it is critically

important that we focus our limited program resources on connectivity, not just to the school or

library, but to the student or library patron. The Order funds this support for Wi-Fi through the

combination of funds already available for this purpose and by utilizing savings associated with

transitioning support from non-broadband services to broadband.

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 forE-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


Page 2-The Honorable Bob Goodlatte

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

over time. The accompanying Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks further comment

on the per-square foot and per-student budgets for support of internal connections.

I understand fully your concern and agree that web hosting services can be a valuable

tool for school districts. The issue we face is how best to prioritize E-rate dollars so that all

schools have the underlying broadband connectivity necessary for students and teachers to take

advantage of the growing universe of available digital learning tools, as well as so libraries can

serve their communities. Simply put, if broadband is the priority, then too many funds were

being spent on non-broadband activities.

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. I

look forward to working with you and your colleagues toward our mutual goal of increased

access to high-speed broadband in our nation's schools.

Thank you again for your interest in this important matter. Please do not hesitate to

contact me if you have any further concerns.



Tom Wheeler

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