Rockefeller: Schools Need 1 Gigabit-Per-Second Broadband Speeds

Calls on FCC, Industry to Make That Happen by Decade's-End
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Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Tuesday that every school should have 1 gbps broadband speeds, and he sees no reason why they shouldn't all be Wi-Fi hotspots as well.

In his opening statement for Tuesday's FCC oversight hearing, he said the FCC's E-rate subsidy program for schools and libraries, which Rockefeller co-authored, could drive that effort.

"Simply put, we need to create E-Rate 2.0.  We need to fund and adapt E-Rate to meet the needs of a data-driven society," he said, echoing -- or foreshadowing -- similar comments by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who was Rockefeller's top telecom aide. "And, if every coffee shop in America can offer wireless connectivity, then surely every school in America should be able to offer it as well," said Rockefeller. "We owe our children this." 

Rockefeller directed his challenge to ISPs as well as the government. "Today, I urge the FCC and industry to join me in an effort to make sure that every child in America has a bright future."

Rockefeller also talked in his statement about what he said should be the driving principle behind incentive auctions. "[I]t must maximize the resources available for the construction of a nationwide, interoperable broadband network for first responders."

That priority comes as no surprise since Rockefeller -- with Rosenworcel's help -- was instrumental in crafting the legislation that authorized the auction to pay for the network.

He also wants the FCC to get moving. "I urge the Commission to move forward on an aggressive timetable to get this proceeding done," he said. The FCC is expected to vote on a final framework by summer, and has targeted the auction by the end of 2014.