The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. An independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the commission is the United States’ primary authority for communications laws, regulation and technological innovation.
National Broadband Plan
The National Broadband Plan, released by the FCC on March 17, 2010, sets out a roadmap for initiatives to stimulate economic growth, spur job creation and boost America’s capabilities in education, health care, homeland security and more. The plan includes sections focusing on economic opportunity, education, health care, energy and the environment, government performance, civic engagement and public safety.
Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)
The FCC’s E-rate program connects the nation’s schools and libraries to broadband. It is the government’s largest educational technology program. When E-rate was established in 1996, only 14 percent of the nation’s K-12 classrooms had access to the Internet. Today, virtually all schools and libraries have Internet access.
Broadband & Education
Broadband investment will help us lead the world in 21st century educational innovation. Here’s what the FCC is doing:
The FCC is launching a pilot program that supports off-campus wireless Internet connectivity for mobile learning devices. Education doesn’t stop at the schoolyard gate or the library door. Digital textbooks and other mobile learning devices allow students to learn in a real-world context, inside the classroom and beyond. Because of their low cost and accessibility, these mobile devices can also help advance digital equity, particularly for children from economically disadvantaged communities.
The FCC’s new E-Rate Order will help bring affordable, super-fast fiber connections to America’s schools and libraries. It allows participants to use E-Rate funds to connect to the Internet in the most cost-effective way possible, including via unused fiber lines already in place across the country and through existing state, regional and local networks. With these fiber networks, schools and libraries can provide students and communities with cutting-edge connectivity, while saving millions of dollars.
The FCC is also launching “School Spots” — where schools have the option to provide Internet access to the local community after students go home. With affordable fiber, these School Spots are a major step toward the National Broadband Plan’s goal of connecting an anchor institution in every community to affordable 1 Gbps broadband. School Spots will help ensure that people who otherwise lack access to enjoy the benefits of super-fast broadband.
Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children’s access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet. CIPA imposes certain requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for Internet access or internal connections through the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. In early 2001, the FCC issued rules implementing CIPA and provided updates to those rules in 2011.