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Members Call on FCC to Suspend E-Rate Program Rules, Expand High-Speed Internet Access for Rural Students Amid Coronavirus-Caused School Closures

March 26, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today joined Rep. Abigail Spanberger (PA-07) and 50 colleagues in calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to take immediate steps to expand high-speed internet access for students facing school closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) led a similar effort last week.   

The House Members wrote: “We urge you to temporarily waive relevant E-rate program rules and allow its beneficiaries to utilize universal service funding to provide one-time discounts for home wireless service to existing school devices and hotspots for students who lack internet access at home. We urge that the FCC take immediate steps to ensure that all students have adequate home access to the internet should their schools close in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”ed States, approximately 12 million students lack reliable broadband connectivity in their homes, and as of 2019, 27 percent of rural residents do not have reliable access to high-speed broadband internet. This limits K-12 students’ ability to complete assignments, hinders the efficacy of online-based learning programs, and creates what experts commonly refer to as the 'homework gap.'”

The letter also calls on the FCC to consider making as much of the approximately $2 billion in funding for the E-Rate program available for these purposes.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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