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FCC Must Expand The E-Rate Program To Connect Students During Pandemic

Above photo: Angel Nalubega holds her sign before protesting at the Comcast Center in Center City. Advocates, parents, teachers, community members, and students attempted to deliver letters to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, demanding he open up residential hot spots for students to get online and improve speeds of the Internet Essentials program. Yong Kim /Philadelphia Inquirer.

Yesterday, Public Knowledge joined Access Humboldt, Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, Consumer Reports, and New America’s Open Technology Institute in filing comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s Public Notice on the use of E-Rate funds to enable remote learning. Public Knowledge supports “off-campus” use of E-Rate funds to help students studying at home access the broadband they need to stay connected to classes, student services, and their families during the pandemic.

The following can be attributed to Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:

“As the nation enters its 12th month of the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools remain closed or opened on a limited basis, making distance learning the primary means of educational instruction for many students. The needs of students and teachers to have broadband, therefore, remains as vital today as it did a year ago. This is why we’re asking the FCC to make a common-sense decision to allow the E-Rate program Congress established to ensure schoolchildren and teachers have access to broadband to be used for remote learning. 

“As our filing explains, the statute creating the E-Rate program authorizes the Commission to provide full flexibility to schools and libraries to direct funding to the service and equipment necessary to offer remote learning, thereby reaching students in the ‘classroom’ wherever they are, which, during this pandemic, is at home. Consistent with past Commission decisions, the Commission should immediately remove funding barriers to remote learning.”

You may view our comments for more information.

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