Feeds

FCC votes to bring faster internet to US schools

Broadband subsidy program to get complete overhaul

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to overhaul its E-rate program, which subsidizes internet and telecommunications access for schools and libraries, with a goal of facilitating greater availability of modern, high-speed wired and wireless networks.

"Preparing our nation's students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with countries around the world will rely increasingly on interactive, individualized learning experiences driven by new technology," President Obama said in a statement in support of the move on Friday. "To get there, we have to build connected classrooms that support modern teaching – investments we know our international competitors are already making."

E-rate was first authorized by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, at a time when just 14 per cent of US classrooms had internet access. Over the last 16 years, the program has helped increase that figure to 97 per cent.

But the needs of educators are shifting, and although technology has advanced dramatically since 1996, the E-rate program has never been revised to keep up with the changes.

A 2010 survey of E-rate applicants revealed that half had internet connections that were slower than the average American home. Asked what was keeping them from upgrading, 39 per cent cited cost as the barrier.

"Already, year-in and year-out, the demand for E-rate support is double the roughly $2.3 billion the Commission now makes available annually," FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. "Moreover, the agency's own survey indicates that 80 percent of schools and libraries believe that their broadband connections do not meet their current needs."

In light of all this, the commission on Friday voted to thoroughly revamp the E-rate program for the first time in its history. "This is big – because here comes E-Rate 2.0," Rosenworcel said.

Just what the nature of the changes to E-rate will be is not yet set. For now, the FCC has merely committed to act, and it has solicited comment from interested parties on a number of topics that it will address as it works to overhaul the program.

Among other issues, the commission is seeking input on how to maximize the cost-effectiveness of E-rate purchases, how to increase the program's transparency, how to accelerate the application process, how best to implement community Wi-Fi hotspots, and how best to comply with the Chidren's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

"The questions posed offer a starting point from which schools and libraries, state and local officials, and all interested stakeholders can share their views with the Commission," FCC acting chair Mignon Clyburn said.

But they'd better move fast. The Obama administration has set a goal of getting 99 per cent of US students connected to the internet over high-speed broadband within the next five years. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.