New Media Rights helps shape FCC Consumer Advisory Committee recommendation on improving broadband access in U.S. schools and libraries

On Friday, March 28, the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee approved an important recommendation to modernize and improve the way we bring high-speed broadband to classrooms and libraries around the county.  New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill, and Legal Interns Marko Radisavljevic and Kyle Welch were directly involved in the research, drafting, and proposal of this recommendation.

New Media Rights’ Executive Director Art Neill is a member of the CAC, and co-chair of the Broadband Working Group. The other co-chair of the Broadband Working Group is Mia Martinez of the National Asian American Coalition, pictured here with Art Neill and her NAAC colleague Ruriko Sato on March 28 after passage of the E-rate recommendation.  You can watch the March 28 meeting here.

At minute 79, Chairman Wheeler and his Special Counsel Gigi Sohn visit the Consumer Advisory Committee and during their remarks explicitly commend both this E-rate recommendation and a previous recommendation New Media Rights helped shape on improving Consumer Complaint Data reporting. They both indicated transparency in consumer complaint data has become a top priority for the FCC.

New Media Rights conducted an extensive review of the FCC’s E-rate program, including analyzing a vast amount of input on the program from a variety of stakeholders. Based on this research, New Media Rights’ staff and interns helped lead the efforts to draft a recommendation encouraging the FCC to modernize and improve the 18 year old E-rate program for the 21st century.  The recommendations include both general priorities as well as specific process priorities that will improve the E-rate program.  The recommendations (see attached PDF) address the following topics.

  • Prioritizing the use of E-rate funds for high speed broadband
  • Making the use of E-rate program funds fair and equitable
  • Considering the unique needs of rural and small institutions
  • Ensuring E-rate funds assist in the purchase of essential equipment to spread that connectivity throughout the schools and libraries and beyond
  • Improving data collection and monitoring of the E-rate program to improve the efficiency of allocation of E-rate funds, identify needs, and promote greater transparency about the services and network speeds in schools and libraries. 
  • Implementing an electronic filing system.
  • Enhancing predictability of funding
  • Simplifying the application and disbursement processes
  • Allowing multi-year applications

New Media Rights is looking forward to continuing to be a vital part of the discussion surrounding policies that affect access to broadband for Americans at the FCC and its Consumer Advisory Committee.

Special thanks goes to California Western School of Law 2L Marko Radisavljevic, and 3L Kyle Welch, two of New Media Rights' legal interns who worked extensively on this recommendation.

Marko Radisavljevic 

Kyle Welch

Since New Media Rights is an independently funded program at California Western, it continues to rely on grants and individual donations to fund its work. New Media Rights is running a special holiday fundraising campaign.  To learn more about how you can support New Media Rights’ mission and to help them reach their year end goal, click here.

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