The FCC is now proposing some changes in the E-Rate program to recognize the breathtaking changes in technology since 1996. That makes good sense. We must seize this opportunity to advance the goal of 1-gigabit connectivity for libraries and schools.
We can do this by making smart investments in scalable technologies and technical support where high-capacity broadband is not available or affordable and by ensuring internal and wireless networks are sufficient to support an explosion in mobile devices. The $2 billion “down payment” must do both to ensure people in rural areas will finally overcome the digital divide.
Those small schools and rural libraries are the seed beds of opportunity and knowledge for those in America who live in rural areas, and they deserve the same tools of knowledge and progress as everyone else in our country.
The FCC has an opportunity to move in the right direction and demonstrate belief in that old wagon train lesson as well. We really don’t move America ahead by leaving some behind.
Byron Dorgan is a former Democratic senator from North Dakota. He is currently a senior policy adviser at Arent Fox and serves as co-chairman of the firm’s government relations practice.