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Closing the Digital Divide, an FCC Priority

The FCC released their 2018-2022 Strategic Plan and there are four main strategic goals. The four priority goals are to close the digital divide, promote innovation, protect consumer and public safety, and reform the FCC’s processes. When highlighting the digital divide, the Plan specifically states, “High-speed Internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic opportunity. But there are too many parts of the country where broadband is unavailable or unaffordable. The FCC has tools it can use to help close this digital divide, bring down the cost of deploying broadband, and create incentives for providers to connect consumers in hard-to-serve areas.”
While the Strategic Plan does not specifically talk about E-rate related issues, the Plan addresses the Universal Service Fund program. The FCC’s goal is to:
  • Reduce and remove regulatory burdens and barriers to infrastructure investment, and provide opportunities for innovation in broadband services and technologies by developing a flexible approach that will modernize, reform, and simplify the Universal Service Fund (USF) programs to facilitate affordable broadband deployment;
  • Ensure that the Universal Service Fund programs are well managed, efficient and fiscally responsible and reduce fraud, waste, and abuse. 
The FCC’s 2015-2018 Strategic Plan did address the E-rate program and wanted to modernize the program and have a well-managed, efficient and fiscally responsible E-rate program. The 2015-2018 Plan can be viewed here.
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