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MMTC, Rainbow/PUSH Praise E-Rate Revamp

The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition has joined those applauding the FCC's E-Rate revamp as a "positive step."

In a statement Monday—a divided FCC voted Friday 3-2 to approve the revamp—Rainbow/PUSH, joined by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, particularly applauded the FCC's decision to increase the per-square-foot funding for libraries—it was bumped up to $2.30, which commissioner Mignon Clyburn had pushed for.

MMTC and Rainbow/PUSH said that increase would be particularly helpful to smaller, urban libraries.

They praised Clyburn for arguing that the commission move to a needs-based—rather than a square footage or per-pupil basis—funding.

The revamp includes a review after two years of those per-student and square-foot calculations, with the FCC having to affirmatively renew that regime.

The E-Rate is the subsidy, paid by telecom carriers and ultimately their subs, to pay for advanced telecommunications to schools and libraries. The revamp is intended to refocus the fund on Wi-Fi connections to students and teachers, rather than external broadband connections to the facilities. It is also phasing out support from traditional phone, pagers and other technologies being superceded in the digital age.