Moving Forward with a Data-Driven E-rate Modernization Process

Last 30 days the Commission took a major step forward in modernizing E-rate by tackling the school and library Wi-Fi space, maximizing cost-effective purchasing, and phasing down support for non-broadband solutions. In addition , the item includes a Further Discover of Proposed Rulemaking that looks for comment on, among other things, the long-term financing needs of the program in light of the overall broadband goals and the annual $1 billion target for Wi fi adopted in the E-rate Modernization Purchase.

Chairman Wheeler made clear that data will generate answers to questions about system funding, based on an understanding of present school and library connectivity as well as the projected costs necessary for all institutions and libraries to meet the goals adopted in the E-rate Modernization Purchase.

In support of this goal, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Agency and Office of Strategic Preparing and Policy today released an employee report summarizing what we have learned to date as the result of an extraordinary effort to collect and analyze data, both regarding the current state of communications technology within America’s libraries and schools along with the way the E-Rate program provides support. We also published two maps providing a visualization of present fiber availability for schools plus libraries across the country.

The report is a highly illuminating look over, both for longtime experts within the E-rate program as well as those a lot more broadly interested in the state of schooling technology in America today. A few information from the report really stand out:

  1. The Commission’s E-rate Modernization Purchase has the potential in order to dramatically expand access to funding meant for Wi-Fi upgrades. Of note, close to half of applicants in Funding 12 months 2012 spent less than $150 per-student on internal connections, the budget followed by the Commission in the E-Rate Modernization Order , however, many applicants spent far more, ensuring that most schools and libraries would not get such support. With the adoption of reasonable budgets, $1 billion within annual support for Wi-Fi needs to be sufficient to ensure Wi-Fi connectivity in most school and library.
  2. Phasing down support meant for non-broadband services will, over the next five Funding Years, result in a overall of over $3. 5 billion dollars which will be freed up and reallocated to higher priority broadband connections in order to and within schools and your local library.
  3. The report confirms that while there is work to be done in connecting more schools in order to fiber, the current state is relatively better than expected. With a large set of data indicating that approximately two-thirds of schools have access to fiber infrastructure, the most crucial barrier to high-speed connectivity towards the school premises appears to be service pricing, rather than access to infrastructure.
  4. At the same time, many rural schools as well as the vast majority of your local library lack physical facilities necessary to meet the broadband goals followed in the E-rate Modernization Order . This rural high speed gap must be addressed.
  5. One of the more striking takeaways from your report is how vividly it illustrates the variability in prices being paid for similar services by similarly situated schools and your local library seeking E-rate support.

The intent of the report is to help stakeholders and the community navigate the large and data-intensive record in the E-rate Modernization proceeding, particularly as parties respond to the parts of the E-rate Modernization Further Notice regarding long-term funding needs.

We hope the report is a useful tool for stakeholders as you think about additional steps that should be taken in the modernization process. As always, we desired your feedback and we encourage all of parties to submit additional information and analysis into the record. Technologies and the needs of schools plus libraries continue to evolve quickly, plus staff will continue to develop the record in this proceeding to help a fact-based, data-driven modernization of the program.


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