FCC Doubles Money for School Broadband to $2 Billion

Making good on President Obama's promise in his State of The Union address last week to bring broadband Internet access to 99 percent of the nation's schools over the next five years, the FCC says it will double its funding to accomplish the goal, to $2 billion.

With the additional $1 billion to be spent over the next two years, it is estimated that at least 20 million students in 15,000 schools will have access to a faster broadband connection.

School districts throughout the U.S. have become more reliant on an Internet connection for tests, games, and other resources. In many of these districts however, the connection speeds are either unreliable or too slow to be useful on a consistent basis. The federal government created a program called E-Rate in 1996 to provide more than $2 billion annually to schools and libraries in order to improve their Internet connections.

In June 2013, the White House unveiled its ConnectEd initiative with the intention of widening the availability of high-speed broadband Internet access to schools and libraries. The initiative, part of a larger effort to modernize public education, is being pushed forward by the Federal Communications Commission.

A Necessary Change

As a result of E-Rate, the majority of schools and libraries have at least basic access to the Internet. While the U.S. is one of the best countries in terms of average Internet speeds, there are parts of many states like Arizona and Texas that have average Internet speeds under 3 Mbps. When schools in those areas attempt to access larger programs and services online, these speeds are simply not enough.

Now that children are growing up in a digital age and are being taught how to use devices early in their schooling, broadband speeds have become increasingly important, as they can either limit or expand what...

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