Since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the E-Rate program administered by the Federal Communications Commission has been a hot topic among some in the school bus industry for its failure to include the iconic yellow vehicles under the same umbrella for Internet access as schools. and libraries.
After attempts in Congress to expand funding for school bus Wi-Fi programs has failed, the day may soon come when the FCC acquiesces and treats buses as true extensions of the classroom.
FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal on May 11 to allow E-Rate funding for school bus Wi-Fi. It happened at a meeting of the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training, a nonpartisan organization that examines and supports the use of technology to improve education and training in America.
The proposed “declaratory ruling” directs the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau to include funding for Wi-Fi on buses in establishing services eligible for E-Rate funding for the coming year. The funding cap in 2021 was $4.276 billion, according to the FCC.
“While we have made progress in connecting many more families through our various broadband funding programs, lack of homework is still a harsh reality for millions of school children in urban and rural America,” Rosenworcel said. in a press release. “Wiring our school buses is a practical step we can take that is consistent with the history of the E-rate program. This change in common sense could help kids who don’t have broadband at home. I look forward to my colleagues joining me in endorsing this step to meet the online educational needs of our country’s schoolchildren. »
In the meantime, the application period for the third round of financing below $7.17 billion Connectivity Emergency Fund closes Friday. So far, the FCC said it has committed more than $35 million in funding under this program for the purchase of school bus Wi-Fi hotspots and broadband.
Reprinted with permission from School Transportation News. Read it original post.