FCC Modernizes E-rate To Expand Robust Wi-Fi in Schools and 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. Circ 1974).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
July 11, 2014
Mark Wigfield, 202-418-0253
FCC MODERNIZES E-RATE PROGRAM TO EXPAND ROBUST WI-FI NETWORKS IN THE
NATION’S SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES
Reforms to Expand Wi-Fi to 10 Million More Students, Thousands of Libraries Nationwide Next Year
Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission today took major steps to expand access
to cutting-edge digital learning technologies by modernizing its E-rate program to widely support robust
Wi-Fi networks in schools and libraries. Modernizing E-rate, the nation’s largest program supporting
communications technology in schools and libraries, is essential to closing the Wi-Fi gap in these
While E-rate over its 18-year life has succeeded in connecting virtually all schools and libraries to the
Internet, it is not currently geared for today’s world of interactive, individualized digital learning. By
continuing to support broadband connectivity to the building while significantly expanding support for
robust Wi-Fi networks within classrooms and libraries, the FCC’s reforms can deliver the benefits of
customized learning to students over tablets and laptops and enable library patrons to fully participate in
today’s digital world.
The Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted by the FCC will accomplish three major
Significantly expand funding for Wi-Fi networks and distribute it fairly to all schools and
libraries while recognizing the needs of the nation’s rural and poorest school districts
Maximize the cost-effectiveness of E-rate spending through greater pricing transparency,
encouraging consortia and bulk purchasing, and better enforcement of existing rules
Streamline and simplify the E-rate application process and overall program administration
The Order maintains E-rate’s current budget of $2.4 billion (adjusted by inflation) and makes available an
additional $2 billion to support Wi-Fi over the next two years through improved financial management
practices that free up excess reserves. For the following three years, the program will target $1 billion
annually to Wi-Fi – while continuing to ensure funding is available for broadband connectivity to schools
and libraries – by phasing out support for non-broadband services, such as pagers and phones, and
through increased efficiencies.
In total, the program improvements will target an additional $5 billion for Wi-Fi over the next five years,
which is sufficient to expand Wi-Fi networks in all schools and libraries. The effort will potentially
provide a 75 percent increase in Wi-Fi funding for rural schools over the next five years and a 60 percent
increase for urban schools, delivering Wi-Fi to an additional 10 million students in 2015 alone.
Today’s action represents the next step in an ongoing E-rate modernization process. Issues that the
Commission previously sought comment on remain open, and the Further Notice accompanying today’s
order seeks comment on a series of additional issues, including the appropriate long-term funding
necessary to meet the goals established in the Order.
Action by the Commission, July 11, 2014, by Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (FCC 14-99). Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Clyburn, with Commissioner Rosenworcel
concurring in part, and Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly dissenting. Separate statements issued by
Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai and O’Rielly.
Docket No. 13-184
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