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FCC Launches Modernization of E-Rate Program for Broadband in Schools, Libraries

(August 15, 2013)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has initiated a thorough review of the E-rate program and set forth three proposed goals to modernize the program: (1) increase broadband capacity, (2) achieve cost-effective purchasing, and (3) streamline program administration. The proposal also seeks comment on options to advance these goals. Improvements to the E-rate program could affect the ability of ASHA members to provide telepractice services and to host electronic individualized education programs (IEPs).


The E-rate program, established in 1997, represents the federal government's largest education technology program. When Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, only 14% of classrooms had Internet access; today that figure is close to 100%. To date, the E-rate program has successfully connected virtually all U.S. schools and libraries (97% of U.S. classrooms) to the Internet, according to the FCC. Over the past 15 years, support provided by the E-rate program has helped revolutionize schools' and libraries' access to modern communications networks, but the needs of schools and libraries are changing. In schools, high-speed broadband access facilitates an increasingly interactive and individualized learning environment and expands school boundaries through distance learning applications. In libraries, high-speed broadband access gives patrons the ability to apply for jobs; interact with federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies; engage in lifelong learning; and stay in touch with friends and family.

ASHA Resource

For more information, visit FCC's website or contact Catherine D. Clarke, ASHA's director of education and regulatory advocacy, at or 800-498-2071, ext. 5611.

ASHA Corporate Partners