Policy & Funding

Advocacy Groups Urge FCC to Save Educational Broadband Service

The SHLB Coalition and CoSN are leading the pack of advocacy groups who are urging the FCC to retain the Educational Broadband Service is dedicated to serving educational institutions.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering making changes to the Educational Broadband Service, which is spectrum that is dedicated to serving educational institutions. But the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition and the Consortium for School Networking are leading a petition to the FCC to make sure that the EBS spectrum remains in the hands of educational leaders and tribal entities.

There are 830 signatories representing educational institutions, rural operators, public libraries, nonprofit organizations, anchor institutions, individuals and interest groups that have signed a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai asking him to maintain the eligibility requirements to hold an EBS license.

The notice of proposed rulemaking issued on April 19, 2018 would modernize and rationalize the EBS spectrum to allow for more flexible use. Twenty-three years ago, the FCC stopped issuing new EBS licenses which resulted in leaving 50 percent of the U.S. without access to a portion of the 2.5 GHz band. The FCC is expected to reach a decision this summer on how to make spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band available.

“The [FCC] should resist efforts to commercialize the band. Doing so would abandon the band’s long educational legacy, undermine the educational EBS services being provided today, and foreclose on the opportunity this proceeding presents to modernize EBS to help solve some of our nation’s most pressing broadband challenges—the digital divide and the homework gap,” the advocacy groups write in the letter to the FCC.

The signatories of the letter are arguing that EBS should remain educational rather than allowing the entire 2.5 GHz band to go the commercial sector. “At a time when broadband for education is more critical than ever, the [FCC] should not commercialize the only remaining portion of the only remaining band dedicated to advancing education,” they argue.

According to 2015 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 80 percent of eighth graders used a computer for school work on a weekday but 7 million American students still lack home internet access.

“Large commercial carriers face difficult economics when it comes to building out to unserved or under-served communities - and more spectrum won't change that,” John Windhausen, executive director of the SHLB Coalition. “The SHLB Coalition urges the FCC to keep EBS educational via priority licensing windows for educational institutions and Tribal Nations."

The full text of the letter can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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