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For Immediate Release

Tracy S. Weeks, Ph.D.
Executive Director
202-715-6636 x700
[email protected]

SETDA applauds the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline Order
Another Step to Ensuring Digital Equality for All Students
March 31, 2016 (Washington D.C.) Earlier today, the FCC voted to modernize the Lifeline program to permit low-income Americans to use this subsidy for broadband services instead of limiting the program to telephone access. Lifeline was established by the FCC in 1985 to help ensure that telephone services were accessible by poor households. This update, along with the FCC’s E-rate modernization and the White House’s ConnectAll and ConnectHome initiatives, aims to address the “Homework Gap” for students across the United States.
The Lifeline update includes:
  • Allows Lifeline support for stand-alone mobile or fixed broadband Internet access service
  • Bundles including fixed or mobile voice and broadbandPhases in mobile broadband requirement over five years
  • Helps close the homework gap by promoting the offering of mobile devices with Wi-Fi and hotspot functionality

Dr. Tracy Weeks, Executive Director, SETDA notes, “If we truly want students to leverage digital resources so that educators can personalize learning for each child, then all students must be able to access broadband at meaningful connection speeds from home. Lifeline and E-rate are steps in the right direction to make quality broadband accessible to all households and to close the ‘Homework Gap’. Greater funding will ultimately be needed to make sure all families have access to high-speed broadband, therefore SETDA urges Congress to use every tool at its disposal to support both the Lifeline order and the continuation of E-rate.”

SETDA has long advocated for equitable access to broadband both in and outside of school. SETDA’s Broadband Imperative report (to be refreshed in June 2016) includes capacity targets for broadband access and recommendations for access both in and outside of school. In addition, SETDA co-published an E-rate Modernization Toolkit and will soon co-release, State K-12 Broadband Leadership: Driving Connectivity and Access both with Common Sense Kids Action.

Founded in 2001, SETDA is the national non-profit association representing the interests of U.S. state and territorial educational technology leadership. SETDA’s mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice. For more information, please visit
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