Industries from across the United States are taking a stronger interest in improving schools’ Web connectivity, as evidenced by a new open letter released Thursday from about 50 CEOs that urges federal officials to bring signficant changes to the E-rate program.
The letter is directed to Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that oversees the E-rate and has released a tentative blueprint for renovating the program. FCC officials have said the program, established in 1996, needs to be modernized to support up-to-date technologies and to operate more efficiently with less bureaucracy.
The CEOs signing the letter come from a diverse assortment of industries. They include Michael Dell, of Dell Inc.; Craig Kallman, of Atlantic Records; John Donahoe, of eBay; Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook; Vinod Khosla, of Khosla Ventures; Reed Hastings of Netflix; and filmmaker George Lucas, of the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
“The FCC must act boldly to modernize the E-rate program to provide the capital needed to upgrade our K-12 broadband connectivity and Wi-Fi infrastructure within the next five years,” the letter states. “The FCC must also ensure that E-rate funding is spent effectively. In this era of scarce resources the FCC should focus E-rate spending on upgrading America’s K-12 Internet infrastructure and help schools dramatically lower the cost of bandwidth.”
E-rate funding can be used to “provide the capital investment to connect our school districts to high-speed fiber networks. This is a financially sound investment that will lower bandwidth costs, enable investments in Wi-Fi upgrades, and generate tremendous returns for both our students and the American taxpayer.”