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E-rate and Internet Access: Your Questions Answered

With over a billion dollars pledged for school technology and an overhaul underway for the program that provides discount Web access, the federal government is serious about its goal of providing all students with high-speed Internet access.

The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to complete its modernization of the E-rate program this fall.

E-rate, created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, connects schools and libraries to the Internet at a discount, District Administration reported. Funding for E-rate is collected from surcharges on telecommunications services. When the plan was enacted, only 14%  of schools had Internet access. Now  more than 95% percent of schools are connected, partially due to E-rate, said the Federal Communications Commission.

District Administration answers frequently asked questions about E-rate, and provides tips for administrators on tapping federal funding for digital learning devices and professional development.

Equitable access to technology will help districts close learning gaps, Richard Culatta, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, told District Administration. Better broadband and Wi-Fi connections will allow schools to create more individualized blended learning programs and access high-quality digital software for students, he added.

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