Following Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s decision to introduce a proposal for consideration at the FCC’s July meeting to modernize the E-Rate program to bring high-speed Wi-Fi to every student and library, National League of Cities Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony issued the following statement:
“As a former mayor and lifelong advocate for libraries and schools, I commend Chairman Wheeler for taking initiative to reform the 18-year-old E-Rate program. While the E-Rate program has been successful in providing increased access to modern communications networks in our nation’s schools and libraries, more people are using the program and additional funding is needed to meet the needs of residents who rely on public access to the Internet.
“Broadband access is critically important for individuals to obtain information, education and tools for economic independence. However, since the cost of new hardware and faster broadband access is prohibitively expensive for many schools and libraries, E-Rate serves a crucial function to connect all members of a community. E-Rate funding must be increased above the current $2.41 billion cap to help sure that urban, suburban and rural communities can provide these opportunities to residents.”
NLC also supports streamlining the E-Rate application process to increase efficiency and effectiveness, including “smart use” funds to deploy high-capacity broadband rather than to support outdated services such as paging, directory assistance and dial-up services. With modern equipment, schools and libraries have the potential to support sustained economic growth for our nation’s workforce, both present and future.
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.