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Federal Communications Commission
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

April 13, 2000


Commissioner Susan Ness issued the following press statement on April 13, 2000, concerning the start of funding commitments for the third year of the schools and libraries universal service support mechanism:

As we commence the third year of the E-Rate, it is appropriate to take stock of how far we have come in realizing the vision of the Snowe-Rockefeller-Exon-Kerrey provisions of the 1996 Telecommunications Act -- to deliver the benefits of the information age to our nation's schools and libraries through telecommunications discounts.

I was proud when we initiated the E-Rate rulemaking in 1996, and I am proud of our accomplishments to date: In the first two years, the E-Rate helped connect over one million public school classrooms to the Internet. In 1999, 95 percent of public schools were connected to the Internet, whereas in 1994, only 35 percent were connected. In 1999, 63 percent of public school instructional rooms were connected, whereas in 1994, only 3 percent were connected. The program has also helped connect almost 10,000 community libraries.

We are providing our communities and our children with the tools necessary for the 21st century. We have targeted greater discounts to those who need them the most - those living in economically disadvantaged and rural areas. We have allowed educators and librarians in each institution the flexibility to select the services that will most benefit that community.

As I've traveled around the country, educators, parents, schoolchildren, and service providers have described the extraordinary benefits this program has brought to their communities. I have seen children in North Dakota energized by Internet access in their classroom. I have heard about tiny schoolhouses in the Southwest and in the Alaskan bush that are able to offer a wide assortment of advanced courses through distance learning. These are courses that a small school would never have been able to offer on its own. I applaud everyone who has worked so hard to implement this vital program.

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