The FCC's vote Friday to revamp its E-Rate schools and libraries telecom subsidy drew praise from a variety of stakeholders, including from Comcast executive VP David Cohen.
"Comcast applauds today's FCC Order to modernize the E-Rate program to foster broadband connectivity to our nation's classrooms and libraries," Cohen blogged. "This action to use E-Rate funding in a balanced and integrated way to deliver true high speed Internet service to schools and libraries and to ensure that broadband service is disseminated throughout school facilities to classrooms, coupled with the Commission's decision in March to make 100 MHz of spectrum available for Wi-Fi, represents an important step toward realizing the promise of the Administration's ConnectED initiative."
He pointed out that Comcast has been committed to connecting students via its Internet Essentials broadband adoption program, which has provided low-cost Internet access to over 1.2 million, tied to the presence of a school-aged student in a low-income home.
"We look forward to continuing to work together with the FCC, the Administration, and thousands of nonprofit and local government partners to close the digital divide and get the maximum value from the E-Rate program for America's schools and libraries," he said.
Cisco senior VP Patrick Finn congratulated the FCC on the vote. "It’s critical that we modernize and reform the E-Rate program to connect all classrooms across the country to high-speed wireless broadband within five years," he said. "Today’s order, which provides an additional $2 billion toward Wi-Fi networking in classrooms over the next two funding years, represents a significant down payment on this goal. Importantly, the FCC is prioritizing connectivity for students and teachers in the classroom via Wi-Fi for the next two years, with the intention of continuing that funding into the future. It will also help connect rural schools, while mitigating bureaucracy and red tape that impact the ability to quickly deploy the technology schools and libraries need."
The FCC is making wireless infrastructure a key target of funding, so it is not surprising that it was getting shout-outs from the head of PCIA: The Wireless Infrastructure Association, himself a former FCC commissioner. “Today, the FCC helped America take a step toward ensuring that our young people continue to have access to world-class learning resources regardless of where they live or the affluence of their school districts and libraries,” said PCIA president Jonathan Adelstein.
“This Order represents a solid first step toward increasing library participation in the E-rate program and moving our communities toward the gigabit speeds increasingly needed to support Wi-Fi, digital learning and multimedia collections," said American Library Association president Courtney Young in a statement. "More than a year of hard work and advocacy on behalf of our nation’s 16,400 public libraries and the communities they serve has brought us to this point, and I'm proud of what ALA and its library and school partners have achieved."
“Today, the FCC expanded on the promise of 21st century digital education by approving a new plan that takes E-Rate into the future," said Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). "The Commission’s plan smartly increases the presence of Wi-Fi in classrooms to meet a skyrocketing need for not just connectivity, but also widespread access. Students and teachers will be able to optimize their school’s Internet connection by simultaneously connecting to the Internet on a laptop, tablet or other mobile devices."