November 17, 2017

Wyden Urges Support for School and Library Internet Access Program

Washington – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today urged federal officials to protect the E-Rate program, an essential source of federal funding to connect the nation’s schools and libraries to the internet.

With the growth of smartphones and tablet use, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) modernized the E-Rate program in 2014, making funds available to expand Wi-Fi networks in schools and libraries. The FCC directed the Wireline Competition Bureau to compile a report on the adequacy of the funding level for services that provide schools and libraries support for wi-fi and internal connections, by the opening of the 2019 program year. In September, the Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the sufficiency of the E-Rate program’s formula for those services.

“We urge the commission to not prematurely make modifications to this important source of funding, which helps ensure all Americans – whether urban or rural, rich or poor – remain connected and competitive in this global economy,” Wyden and 10 other senators wrote in their letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “While we appreciate the Bureau’s eagerness to begin this evaluation well in advance of the deadline, we believe it is premature to evaluate the adequacy of the modernization, given its recent implementation and utilization.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

The letter led by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) also was signed by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).