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Telecommunications Act Turns 25

February 8, 2021 marked 25 years since the signing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  Heralded by the current FCC as “the biggest overhaul of U.S. communications policy in over half-a-century,” the Act established the federal E-rate program which permanently shaped the direction of broadband connectivity to America’s schools and libraries.

In a press release, Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stated that “the Act accelerated the transition from the analog era to the digital age while also reaffirming the promise at the heart of FCC’s founding statute: that advanced communications should be available to all Americans” while noting that “today, the wisdom of investing in digital learning has never been clearer.”  We couldn’t agree more.

Fortunately, the Commission is taking multiple steps toward the potential of narrowing or eliminating the learning gap caused by insufficient access to at-home broadband connectivity.  From the shaping of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) to contemplating the use of E-rate funds for services supporting remote learning, it is clear that the FCC is invested in “fully realiz[ing] the promise of the Act [to] see connectivity for all Americans.”  The need for reliable and affordable broadband service to every home in the nation has never been greater, and we are excited to see where the next chapter of the story takes us.

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