A growing concern with policymakers has been to tackle an emerging problem in our educational system. Several of our nation’s public schools are lacking high-quality, high-speed Internet. The amount of bandwidth that was deemed sufficient 15 years ago is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of a modern education as it is today. We do not want our country to lose its competitive edge to countries that are more effective in connecting their students to high-speed broadband and cutting-edge technology. Schools need to be able to provide 1 gigabit per 1,000 students which will not only improve education, but will allow students to share the innovative work they have produced.

Under the “ConnectEd” initiative, proposed by President Obama, it states that America is to connect 99% of U.S. students to the digital age through next-generation broadband and high-speed Internet in their schools and libraries within the next five years. Today, fiber connectivity is a vital investment that will enable our school systems to improve their broadband speeds, education applications and overall performance.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that all services eligible to receive discounts and/or subsidies (E-rate program) for all communication services to schools and libraries nationwide. However, this program is encountering issues that were not foreseen when it was created over two decades ago. “The E-rate program was set-up to provide access to telecommunication services to all eligible schools and libraries, particularly those in rural and economically disadvantaged areas.”

With the growing demands for increased broadband capacity, many of these institutions are finding out that they do not currently meet connectivity needs for even the most basic online applications. The Learning Education by Advancing Digital Commission recommends that modernizing the E-rate program is crucial to enable 21st century learning. Lastly, a fiber infrastructure will enable these E-rate recipients to facilitate their need to improve connectivity so that they can meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

Summary of a guest post, who of which was a Google Policy Fellow at the Open Technology Institute in the Summer of 2013. Full article can be read here.