FCC Delays Broadband for Rural Schools
According to the EducationSuperHighway, an organization that works to help rural areas get high-speed broadband access, the process has screeched to a halt under the current FCC leadership.
At least 30 schools in areas like Montana have been waiting over a year for funding, and more than 60 feasible projects have been denied. Meanwhile, kids and teachers are frustrated using modem-like speeds and having to bus kids to other locations to access the Internet.
What Is the Hold Up?
In 2014 the government agreed to pay for “special construction costs” related to building new fiber channels to some rural schools, and to match state funding.
However, the Trump FCC believes in eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse above all else.” As a result FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s justified restrictions on the Lifeline program, which supplies Internet service to poor families.
These restrictions have meant more red tape for those applying for federal subsidies. The application now requires such detailed cost information that small schools struggle even to complete the applications. In addition, the government will only pay for fiber used by schools. The catch – providers cannot possibly build an entire network for just one school. To be cost effective they must pick up other customers in the area.
The EducationSuperHighway claims that due to these bottlenecks, more than 750,000 students are awaiting high-speed Internet access. Meanwhile, their education suffers.