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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

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).

November 17, 1999

News Media Contact:
David Fiske (202) 418-0513

FCC Chairman Kennard Celebrates the Success of the E-Rate in Connecting Over 1 Million Classrooms to the Internet

Washington, D.C. William E. Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced today that over a million classrooms will be connected to the Information Superhighway because of the e-rate. "The e- rate is working," stated Chairman Kennard, "enabling children in over one million classrooms to access a whole new world of knowledge. It is a critical investment in the next millennium for our schools, our children, and our country."

This week marks the final wave of funding for the second year of the e-rate program, established by the bipartisan Snowe-Rockefeller-Exon-Kerrey amendment to the Telecom Act of 1996. It provides 20% to 90% discounts on telecommunications services, Internet access and internal connections to schools and libraries.

This morning Chairman Kennard celebrated the success of the e-rate at a roundtable discussion, entitled "Kids & Media @ The New Millennium, hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in New York city. A report on kids and media, released at today's event, highlights the importance of the e-rate program. The Kaiser Report states:

"We did uncover evidence that a 'digital divide' does indeed exist that young people's access to and use of computers does vary substantially by median income of the community in which they live or go to school, and to a lesser degree, by race . We believe these data testify to the importance of programs designed to make computers available in schools, where slightly more minority than white youth use computers on any given day."
The e-rate bridges the digital divide by providing greater discounts for poorer and rural schools. This year, 54% of the dollars were provided to economically disadvantaged students and library patrons (i.e. schools, or libraries near them, where 50% of the students are eligible for the school lunch program.) The e-rate thus helps insure that all children including those who do not have computers or Internet access at home will have the high-tech tools necessary for the new digital economy.

Schools -- both public and private -- and public libraries can now apply for the 1999/2000 funding round via the SLD web site: (www.sl.universalservice.org).

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