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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Advice from Committee to Commission

The FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee has issued some recommendations on E-Rate reform.  I'd never heard of them, so I looked them up: "The purpose of the Committee is to make recommendations to the Commission regarding consumer issues within the jurisdiction of the Commission and to facilitate the participation of all consumers in proceedings before the Commission."  Who's on the committee?  I count 27 consumer (or at least consumerish) groups, 3 carriers and 2 carrier lobby groups.

The recommendations are not earth-shattering, and in many cases, it's hard to figure out what they're really saying.  I guess that's what you get when you try to get 32 people to agree on the wording.

Item 2 in the first list states: "E-rate funding should be distributed in a way that promotes fair and equitable service and adequate speeds to schools and libraries of various sizes and in various locations."  Well, I haven't heard anyone support unfair or inequitable service, or inadequate speeds, but I have no idea what the committee actually thinks the FCC should do.

My favorite juxtaposition:
3. The E-rate program must ensure that schools and libraries are not only connected to the internet, but also assist in the purchase of essential equipment to spread that connectivity throughout the schools and libraries and beyond.
4. The FCC should consider whether Priority 2 funding adequately addresses the unique needs of rural communities and smaller schools, as well as the changing educational environment, where learning does not stop at the end of the school day or when the student leaves the campus.
#3 seems to be saying that the Commission should be providing Internal Connections funding to all applicants, but #4 calls into question whether Priority Two funding addresses the learning needs of students after they leave campus at the end of the school day.  Do they want more funding for P2 or no P2 funding?

Do they support increasing the size of the fund?  "...the FCC should closely monitor and determine the appropriate level of funding to the E-rate program necessary to bring schools and libraries into the 21st century...."  It sounds like they want to increase the size of the fund, but didn't want to appear to take sides.

Their process suggestions were much more concrete, and I agree with all of them.

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