FCC Survey Finds Faster Broadband Needed in Schools and Libraries

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a report on the state of broadband connectivity at schools and libraries receiving funds from the federal E-rate program, which provides support to help connect schools and libraries to the Internet.

The report is based on data from a 2010 survey that examined the success and challenges related to broadband use schools and libraries face. This survey will help the FCC make data-driven policy decisions for the E-rate program by providing information on the educational and technological needs of those institutions. The survey was commissioned by the FCC and conducted by Harris Interactive Inc., an independent national marketing research firm. Specifically, the survey found the following:

• Almost all have at least some broadband with 95 percent of all E-rate survey respondents having some form of terrestrial broadband connection to at least one facility. Of the remainder, 2 percent use satellite and 3 percent use dialup.
• Nearly 80 percent of respondents say their broadband connections do not fully meet their current needs.
• Cost is a factor with 39 percent of respondents citing cost of service as a barrier in meeting their Internet needs, and 27 percent citing cost of installation as a barrier.
• Of the respondents, 10 percent have broadband speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or greater, and most (55 percent) have broadband speeds greater than 3 Mbps.
• More than half of school districts (60 percent) subscribe to a fiber optic connection.
• 66 percent of respondents provide some wireless connectivity for staff members, students or library patrons.

The E-rate program, which provides more than $2.25 billion annually to support telephone and Internet connections at schools and libraries across the country, was recently upgraded to allow those institutions to get higher speed broadband at lower cost.

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