Powell: Leave E-Rate to politicians
- By Judi Hasson
- Feb 15, 2001
Michael Powell, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission,
said he supports the use of E-Rate to enhance technology at schools and
libraries, but he suggested it should be "up to the politicians" to decide
how the program should work.
Powell's comments, in an interview Wednesday with FCW, are the latest
indication that the program and other efforts to provide computers and Internet
access to poor and underserved areas may face a significant shift in the
Bush's first legislative proposal, summarized in a blueprint called
"No Child Left Behind," calls for allocating E-Rate program money through
a funding formula instead of the current application process. Schools can
currently apply online at www.sl.universalservice.org
or through the mail.
E-Rate was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It
provides discounts of 20 percent to 90 percent on Internet access and infrastructure
via a $2.25 billion fund provided by the telecommunications industry through
taxes on individual telephone bills. An independent nonprofit corporation
established by the FCC administers the money.
Earlier this month, Powell suggested that government may not be responsible
for closing the digital divide the term widely use to describe the gap
between those who can afford technology and Internet access and those who
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the Bush administration
wants to cut government programs that provide computers and Internet access
to underserved areas and may suggest cutting the Technology Opportunities
Program at the Commerce Department by about 65 percent to $15 million
from the current $42.5 million. Bush's first budget is expected to be sent
to Congress in April.