Schools and libraries are going to get a big boost in their Internet connectivity over the next few years.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a second E-rate Modernization Order in December, making further changes to the program that subsidizes Internet connectivity at schools and libraries across the country. Building on the FCC’s July E-rate Modernization Order — which took initial steps to improve Wi-Fi connectivity in schools and libraries and streamline program administration and data collection — the new ordertackles the underlying connectivity challenges and addresses the fact that the program has been historically underfunded. While the media coverage of the latest reforms has focused primarily on the $1.5 billion expansion of E-rate funding, it’s important to recognize that the additional money comes alongside key changes to the program rules to streamline and incentivize cost effective purchasing and investment in long-term, scalable infrastructure solutions. Taken together, these changes will substantially help schools and libraries to meet the connectivity challenges of today and tomorrow.