After adopting the E-rate Modernization Order in July, Chairman Wheeler announced that the Commission is poised to take the next step in updating the E-rate program for schools and libraries. At the Commission’s next meeting in December, Chairman Wheeler will circulate a draft order to his fellow Commissioners for their consideration.
July’s E-rate Modernization Order aimed to close the Wi-Fi gap by creating a $1 billion annual target for promoting broadband development and encouraging digital learning in the nation’s schools and libraries. The Modernization Order also sought to increase the transparency and efficiency of the E-rate program.
Chairman Wheeler’s draft order will be in line with the policy goals of the July Order and perhaps most notably, the draft order will include a proposal to raise the E-rate program cap by $1.5 billion. If approved, this increase will bring the total E-rate program cap to $3.9 billion, up from $2.4 billion. According to the Chairman’s Office, more than half of the $1.5 billion increase accounts for inflation since the E-rate program began in 1997, while the remaining amount reflects the Commission’s commitment to building much needed bandwidth.