Commissioner Rosenworcel suggests using spectrum auction revenue to close homework gap

In a speech to tech and telecom experts at a conference in Colorado, Commissioner Rosenworcel – currently the only seated Democratic member of the Commission – raised a new plan to close the homework gap. She suggested using money from the Commission’s spectrum auction to close the gap and ensure all students have the broadband access they need at achieve success in school.

“Today, seven in ten teachers assign homework that requires access to broadband,” Rosenworcel said. “But FCC data show that as many as one in three households do not subscribe to broadband service. Where these numbers overlap is what I call the Homework Gap.” According to the Senate Joint Economic Committee, the homework gap is real and impacts 12 million school-aged kids across the country.

Rosenworcel wants to close this gap with funds raised by the FCC’s spectrum auction. “The FCC has unused 2.5 GHz licenses in inventory. It also has the authority to hold another voluntary spectrum incentive auction,” she said. “But if we were to combine these sources of 2.5 GHz spectrum, we would be able to hold a substantial nationwide auction for new, flexible commercial use of key mid-band airwaves important to 5G service. Then the funds in excess of those required to run the auction and pay for spectrum contributions from existing licensees could be turned into a Homework Gap initiative.”

“This initiative could help fund the connectivity needs of 12 million students who lack broadband at home—through library loans of Wi-Fi hotspots and other creative ideas that help ensure no child is left offline,” she concluded.



Remarks of Commissioner Rosenworcel at the Silicon Flatirons Conference in Boulder, CO (FCC, Sept. 6, 2018)