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Wheeler vows to close school connectivity gap

10 Jun, 2014

After his third public school visit as FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler noted that “It is wireless broadband connectivity that changes the learning experience and opens new opportunities for students and teachers... I saw how Wi-Fi makes students more productive.”

At the same time Wheeler in his blog lamented:

“... nearly  60% of schools in America lack sufficient Wi-Fi capability to provide students with 21st Century educational tools. Far too many schools have no Wi-Fi at all. For those that are lucky enough to be connected wirelessly, such networks often don’t meet the capacity needs of students and teachers.”

“Solving this challenge is a national priority.” he said, but concludes we’ve been failing at the task. “In the most recent funding year, E-Rate provided zero dollars for Wi-Fi. That’s right: zero,” he said.

And in response Wheeler announced:

“Earlier this year I announced that we will invest an additional $2 billion in broadband for schools and libraries through the end of next year. I believe we should put those resources to work now to meet our educators’ overwhelming pent-up demand for upgrading Wi-Fi at our schools and libraries. However, we must act promptly if this opportunity is to be realized beginning next year.”

While Speed Matters supports getting Wi-Fi to classrooms, E-rate reform must also support higher speed wireline connections to schools and libraries.

Closing the Wi-Fi Gap in America’s Schools and Libraries (Tom Wheeler blog, FCC, Jun. 8, 2014)

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