Blog // Connect Ohio
Last week, I saw an article posted on Twitter stating that the Cleveland city school district had “failed to collect $8.5 million in federal rebates” through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) E-rate program, and it immediately caught my attention. The E-rate program is one of many federal initiatives that Connect Ohio and our parent, Connected Nation, monitor. In fact, my very first project in my former role with the organization was to help draft our comments on modernizing this very initiative.
The Schools and Libraries Program, or “E-rate,” is one of four Universal Service Fund programs managed by the FCC, and the largest educational technology program in the country. E-rate aims to provide support for telecommunications and broadband service to private and public school and libraries across the nation. Here at home, E-rate represents an important funding source for Ohio schools and libraries – in 2013, over $70 million in E-rate fund were disbursed to eligible entities in Ohio.
The E-rate modernization process commenced following President Obama’s announcement of the ConnectED initiative that aims to accelerate deployment of education technology across the nation, and of which reform to the E-rate program is a key component. In 2014, the FCC released two E-rate Modernization Orders marking the most significant reform to the program since its inception, and impacting school and library budgets as early as this year. In particular, $1 billion per year over the next five years will now be dedicated to upgrade on-campus networks, and E-rate’s annual cap increased by 40%, from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion.
Connect Ohio, with support from Connected Nation, will continue to monitor and provide timely analysis and insight into this program and the greater changing technology landscape. To ensure you receive our regular written policy briefings on this and other federal broadband policy reforms and industry trends impacting Ohio’s broadband competitiveness, please subscribe to our RSS feed!