A tight vote in a Federal Communications Commission meeting resulted in additional funding for Wi-Fi in schools and libraries.
The E-Rate program subsides telecommunications and other services through a universal service fee charge on phone bills for schools and libraries that qualify. Education technology advocates including ISTE and some Democrat commissioners have called for the E-Rate budget to more than double because current funding levels aren't meeting the needs of schools and libraries.
But the two Republican commissioners didn't want to just increase spending because it wasn't sustainable, reported The Switch. Instead, they wanted to find budget areas where they could save and become more efficient in what they were spending so they could free up money for Wi-Fi.
In a 3-2 vote on Friday, July 11, the commission compromised by keeping the budget the same, but pledging $2 billion to support Wi-Fi over two years. Better financial management practices have resulted in excess reserves, and that's where this $2 billion is coming from. This order is a start, and the FCC will look at other steps it can take to modernize E-Rate down the road.
The modernization of E-Rate is driven in part by President Obama's Wi-Fi goal of bringing high-speed broadband to 99 percent of students. This increased Wi-Fi connectivity will help schools get high-speed Internet inside their doors, not just to their door, said Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, in a statement.
This story was originally published by the Center for Digital Education.