FCC commissioner Ajit Pai has outlined a student-focused
approach to revamping the E-rate subsidy, which is the portion of the Universal
Service Funds that supports broadband to schools and libraries.
That came in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute Tuesday.
Pai said the fund currently suffers from structural problems,
which he enumerated as "(1) delay, (2) paperwork, (3) the need to
outsource work to consultants, (4) misplaced funding priorities, and (5) bad
But he said the program is worth fighting for. "I point
them out not because E-Rate isn't valuable but rather because it is," he said.
He then enumerated his proposed fixes: "First, I
propose that we start by allocating the E-Rate budget across every school in
America so that every school board and every parent knows up front, on day one,
how much E-Rate funding is available... Second, I propose that we redirect
spending away from outdated services and toward next-generation technologies
that directly benefit students... Third, I propose that we vastly simplify the
E-Rate application process...Fourth, I propose to add real accountability and
transparency to the E-Rate process."
The commission is scheduled to launch its revamp of the
E-rate program this week at Friday's open meeting with a Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking to "modernize" the program.
White House has recently directed the FCC to leverage the program to help
boost high-speed broadband access to students.