Luján, Welch Applaud FCC Vote to Provide Support for Wi-Fi on School Buses Through E-Rate Program
FCC Vote Marks Years-Long Effort by Luján, Bipartisan Legislators to Close Homework Gap
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, and U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) applauded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to expand eligibility for the E-Rate program to reimburse schools that equip school buses with Wi-Fi technology.
Last Congress, Senators Luján and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and then-U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide E-Rate support for school bus Wi-Fi to help close the homework gap while students travel on their daily school bus routes. Senator Luján and then-U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) first introduced legislation to make school bus Wi-Fi eligible for E-Rate in 2018. Many rural New Mexico students spend an hour or longer on their daily bus routes to and from school.
Over 25 million students take the school bus to school every day. According to the FCC, 8.3 million households lack access to high-speed broadband. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the digital divide into stark contrast, and school districts turned to other funding to provide Wi-Fi hot-spots on school buses and parked them throughout communities.
“The FCC vote to support our schools and equip school buses with Wi-Fi is a critical win for students across New Mexico and the country – especially in rural and Tribal communities. This has been years in the making, and I’m glad that the FCC will now take action to close the homework gap for millions of students,” said Luján. “There is strong bipartisan, bicameral support to help schools afford to implement this technology, and I look forward to seeing how this will help New Mexico schools and students achieve success.”
“In Vermont and around the country, rural students often travel long distances to and from school, making it imperative that learning is not limited to the classroom,” said Welch. “Expanding eligibility for the E-Rate program is crucial to closing the digital divide for rural students. The FCC vote is a major win for rural learners, and will be instrumental in closing the homework gap and helping Vermont students thrive.”