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“IF YOU REFORM IT, THEY WILL COME”: New Federal Funding for Wi-Fi Networks Sees High Demand from Nation’s Schools and Libraries, FCC Chairman Announces

It is the first time in three years that E-rate has had any funds available for Wi-Fi at all.

On December 11, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to increase funding for the federal E-rate program by $1.5 billion annually to improve internet access in U.S. schools and libraries. The funding increase followed FCC action in July to target $1 billion annually to expand Wi-Fi connections in the nation’s schools and libraries, as well as programmatic reforms to make E-rate dollars go further, including increasing transparency on how they are spent and what prices are charged for E-rate services.

In a May 11 blog post on the Federal Communications Commission website titled, “If You Reform It, They Will Come,” FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler reveals that schools and libraries are jumping at the chance to apply for the additional E-rate funding. For the upcoming school year, schools and libraries have applied for more than $3.9 billion in support, including more than $1.6 billion for internal Wi-Fi networks.

“These requests reflect long pent-up demand,” Wheeler writes. “It is the first time in three years that E-rate has had any funds available for Wi-Fi at all. In the past, many schools and libraries didn’t bother to apply for Wi-Fi funding because they had no hope of getting funds. That is no longer a problem. … The bottom line is that E-rate is devoting its resources to where schools and libraries need the most help: getting access to robust broadband. This will open up new educational opportunities for students across the country.”

Read Wheeler’s blog post at

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