Technology Policy | News

50 Top Execs Urge E-Rate Modernization To Propel Broadband in Schools

Top executives from 50 diverse companies came together today to urge the FCC to modernize the E-rate program to help bring broadband to schools in the United States.

The effort, led by nonprofit EducationSuperHighway, is aiming to "advance the President's ConnectED goal to connect 99 percent of America's K-12 students to high-speed broadband in five years."

The group sent a joint letter to the FCC, recommending capital investments in infrastructure and focusing E-rate more directly on high-speed broadband. It argued that in order to be competitive in the workforce of the future, students must have Internet access.

"If our schools do not embrace technology and the Internet, our children will be unable to compete in the global economy," the letter read. "America's businesses need a workforce that is prepared for the knowledge economy. We need schools that teach our students the 21st century skills that are the foundation of a competitive workforce and whose graduates are college and career ready. In an era of scarce resources and increasing complexity in the classroom, digital learning represents our country's best hope to transform its K–12 education system to meet these goals. America cannot afford to stand by while our competitors around the world invest in the future of education and a workforce that is superior to our own."

E-rate is the FCC program administered by the Universal Service Administrative Co. that supports schools and libraries with discounts on telecommunications and networking equipment. The program is meant to help institutions outfit and support their facilities with telephone and Internet equipment and services.

Signatories included executives from technology companies — like Dell, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Adobe, Autodesk, Google, eBay, Dropbox, Seagate and Xerox — as well as financial firms, retailers, entertainment companies and an education foundation.

"This group of leading CEOs, innovators, and investors understands well the importance of making wise investments today to help us prosper tomorrow, and they are boldly calling on the FCC to ensure that the federal E-rate program does just that," said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway, in a prepared statement. "Our nation's businesses have been radically transformed by technology, and our schools must keep pace to prepare our youth for the knowledge economy."

EducationSuperHighway is an education and technology advocacy group focused on high-speed, high-capacity Internet for American schools to support digital learning.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan weighed in on the group's effort: "Providing our schools and students access to high-speed broadband is vital to their future and that makes it everybody's business. I appreciate the work and thought of these leaders in helping to move forward the President's ConnectED vision to provide modern tools to nearly all of our students and teachers in the next five years. By doing that, they are helping our students be prepared to compete for jobs in the 21st century global economy."

The letter and complete list of signatories can be downloaded as a PDF from thejournal.com.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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