By guest blogger Sam Atkeson
The Federal Communications Commission released a report today showing the state-by-state impacts of the proposed E-rate modernization plan, which seeks to expand Wi-Fi connectivity to students in schools and libraries across the country.
The proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler estimates an additional 10 million students will be connected via Wi-Fi in schools following the commitment of $1 billion in guaranteed support for those technologies in 2015. Today’s report provides a more comprehensive and long-term projection, detailing how exactly additional funding will affect students, schools, and libraries in all 50 states over the next five years.
The report estimates that if passed, the E-rate modernization plan will connect an additional 43.6 million students to Wi-Fi over five years. Nearly nine percent of this increase will be in California, where Wi-Fi would reach an estimated 5.4 million additional students across 10,755 additional schools.
New Hampshire would see the most drastic improvement in student connectivity relative to the past five years, with a 4,480 percent increase overall.
While the report provides a more detailed picture of how funds will be disbursed, it does little to address what critics see as insufficient funding overall.
The Consortium for School Networking, for example, has argued that the proposal falls short of meeting President Obama’s goal of connecting 99 percent of American students by 2018.
Of course, the realization of any improvements will depend on whether the proposal is passed by the commission. A vote is expected to take place at the agency’s July 11 open session.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.