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FCC takes first step towards funding remote learning

The FCC is asking for public comment on a proposal to fund Wi-Fi hotspots for schools to assist with remote learning due to the pandemic.

It's long been a top priority for Jessica Rosenworcel, who was just chosen as the acting chair of the commission. The FCC will now review multiple petitions to get more money to schools and libraries, in hopes of assisting students who are struggling to learn remotely because they lack internet access at home.

"We need to get to work to update E-Rate funding so all our students can be connected to virtual classrooms, no matter who they are or where they live," Rosenworcel said in a statement. "Today's action is the first step in a process to hear about the emergency relief communities are seeking and to chart a path forward for the FCC to help solve this crisis."

Rosenworcel has often touted E-Rate, a government program that helps schools afford internet access, as a quick solution to get millions of students online. Former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai previously argued that the commission did not have the authority to use E-Rate to bolster remote learning, because it was written to support connectivity in classrooms. But Rosenworcel called that an "excuse."

"It's not right," Rosenworcel told Protocol last year. "The law has a reference to classrooms, but it also has provisions that suggest we can make adjustments in order to facilitate the underlying purpose, which is to get kids connected to school."

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