Monthly Archives: March 2013

FCC Releases Machine Readable Data on E-rate Program

We at the FCC know the importance of open data to policy making and government transparency. The FCC continues to modernize and streamline how it collects, uses, and disseminates data as smart policies depend on quality data, which should be accessible to the public in meaningful ways using modern digital tools.

Today we’re announcing newly available E-rate program data and the beginning of a process to provide easier access to even more data on the E-rate program.  Working with the staff of the Universal Service Administration Corporation(USAC), the administrator of the E-rate fund, we are releasing the most recent complete year of E-rate records available in machine readable format.  This data, for E-rate funding year 2010, is available for download and analysis here.

The FCC’s E-rate program provides up to $2.3 billion a year to schools and libraries to help ensure they have access to affordable broadband and telecommunications services. When E-rate was created by Congress in 1996, only 14% of our nation’s schools were connected to the Internet.  Today over 97% have high-speed Internet access.

This data includes detailed information on what broadband and other communications services and IT equipment schools requested—100K unique service requests and 1.4 million records describing recipient schools and libraries, what categories of service they are actually purchasing, and how much they paid, and how much E-Rate program has dispersed.

We are eager to see what others can do with this data, and to understand what additional data we need to gather and publish to help answer important questions about the impact of the E-rate program.

This is a first step and we will continue to work with USAC on ways to provide streamlined access to full datasets with complete data dictionaries across multiple funding years. With the release of this data set, we seek to engage with the education stakeholder community to collaborate on ways to provide easier access to current E-rate program data and on ways to represent E-rate program impact at a macro level.

How communication in K-12 schools are changing in relation to E-rate

Nationwide demand for telecommunications and Internet access in schools was almost $2.5 billion in Funding Year 2012, a $507 million increase since 2008.  58% of that growth comes in the form of requests for telephone services, leased data lines, and Internet access from traditional telecommunications and Internet service providers.  It does not come as a surprise to anyone that schools are spending more money as the need for faster data lines and Internet access increases.

But the growth in cellular phone service is startling. Since 200 Continue reading

E-rate Discussed at Senate FCC Oversight Hearing

On March 12, 2013, the Senate Commerce Committee held an oversight hearing on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). While much of the hearing was devoted to other issues, the E-rate was an important topic discussed. The Commissioners agreed with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller that the program not only needs to be preserved, but strengthened and modernized to deal with 21st century education. Senator Rockefeller stated “…simply put, we need to create E-rate. 2.0.” He further argued that “…by the end of the decade every school in America should have 1 Gigabit of connectivity…”

To date, no E-rate related reform bills have been introduced in the 113th Congress, which started in January 2013. However, the FCC can create many reforms without Congressional action. Since starting to implement the National Broadband Plan Agenda in 2010, many new program rules and regulations have been issued based on the Broadband Plan. I expect the FCC to continue to reform and update the E-rate program over the coming months.

In December 2011, Congress exempted Universal Service from the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA) but only provided for a two year exemption, which expires on December 31, 2013. While the ADA exemption was not discussed at the hearing today, many in the education community would like to see a permanent exemption passed this year.