Statement: LEAD Supports Call to Bolster E-Rate

LEAD Strongly Supports FCC Chairman Nominee’s Call to Bolster E-Rate, Digital Learning

WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 18, 2013 -  Thomas Wheeler, nominee to be the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, today told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Technology that if confirmed he would seek to update the Universal Service Fund’s E-Rate program, which addresses the wiring of our nation’s schools for Internet service. Earlier this month, President Obama announced ConnectED, an ambitious plan to connect 99 percent of America’s students through high-speed broadband and wireless in five years.

The following statement can be attributed to the LEAD Commission:

“We commend Thomas Wheeler for his commitment to modernize our nation’s schools with the necessary infrastructure so our students can learn, compete and thrive in an increasingly digital world. As evidenced by the research we’ve done over the last year and the great example set by Mooresville, NC, real student improvement can be achieved with better use of and more access to technology and empowering teachers to use that technology in their classrooms. We hope Mr. Wheeler is confirmed shortly so he can join the FCC Commissioners in working to improve high-speed Internet access in American classrooms.”

Last week, the LEAD Commission unveiled a five-point blueprint to expand digital learning in K-12 schools. Among other recommendations in the blueprint, the LEAD Commission called for a nationwide initiative to have devices in the hands of all students by 2020 and to solve the infrastructure challenge by upgrading Internet service to all schools. While the E-Rate program has been successful in bringing basic Internet and phone service to schools, 80% of K-12 schools do not have sufficient broadband and 83% have outdated Wi-Fi networks, according to EducationSuperHighway and FCC data. Our research has found bandwidth requirements for every 1,000 students/staff members will rise to 100 Mbps for the 2014-2015 school year and 1 Gbps for the 2017-2018 school year.