U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, released this statement following today's remarks by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai regarding the need to reform the federal E-Rate program:
"I applaud Commissioner Pai's bold new plan to make the FCC's E-Rate program fairer and more efficient. It's critical that our students, regardless of whether they live in urban, suburban, or rural areas, have access to the communications and technological tools they need to succeed in a digital world. With New Hampshire receiving only 25.2 cents for every dollar it contributes to the E-Rate fund, and other states similarly disadvantaged, we clearly need to review and reform the way funds are distributed. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I look forward to supporting Commissioner Pai's efforts to streamline this program."
The E-Rate program is part of the FCC's Universal Service Fund, which provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in obtaining affordable telecommunications services and Internet connectivity. According to 2011 data, New Hampshire contributed $10,400,000 to E-Rate and received only $2,601,000 - a return of only 25 cents for every dollar the state contributed.
Tomorrow, the Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing, "E-Rate 2.0: Connecting Every Child to the Transformative Power of Technology," to hear from local school officials and representatives from the technology industry regarding ways to strengthen and improve the E-Rate program.