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CWA urges FCC to increase E-rate funding

13 Nov, 2013

When the FCC sought comment on proposals to update the E-rate program of support to schools and libraries, CWA responded. E-rate is the federal program which helps
most U.S. schools and libraries acquire affordable Internet access, and CWA has long supported the program.

On November 8, though, CWA offered reply comments. These were that the FCC should:

•    Increase funding for the E-rate program. The current $2.38 billion funding is inadequate for the present, much less support higher-capacity networks and inside connections necessary to meet growing demand in schools and libraries.

•    Simultaneously take action on universal service fund (USF) contribution reform, in order to meet the funding needs of schools and libraries.

•    Adopt school system connectivity targets of 100 Mbps increasing to 1 Gbps per 1,000 users, and Wide Area Network of 10 Gpbs per 1,000 users as minimum benchmarks for school connectivity.

•    Use E-Rate as part of a larger program to spur job-creating investment in high-capacity networks to the surrounding community.

CWA is not alone in its sentiments. At an event hosted by The Washington Post, “Officials from the White House, the Federal Communications Commission and Congress said... it is time to redouble federal programs that make broadband access more affordable and accessible to U.S. citizens.”

E-rate is essential, said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at the event, “There are 100 million Americans who do not subscribe to broadband because of affordability... And there are 15 million Americans who do not have the infrastructure for broadband. We are reforming the Universal Service Fund to target those areas.”

As CWA concluded in its comments:

“The E-rate program has been one of the great success stories flowing from the Telecommunications Act of 1996... Building on this success by ensuring adequate E-rate funding [represents] important steps forward in building next-generation public-private initiatives to upgrade our communications networks serving schools, libraries, and all Americans.”

CWA FCC reply re Modernizing the E-Rate Program (CWA, Nov. 8, 2013)

Democrats Call for E-Rate Reforms To Expand Broadband Internet Access (Bloomberg BNA, Nov. 5, 2013)

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