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Three days before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is scheduled to address the issue, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai visited AEI to discuss his plan for revamping the E-Rate program, which subsidizes telephone service and Internet access for schools and libraries.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Pai highlighted five structural problems that have moved the program away from its core mission of providing students, particularly in poor and rural areas, with advanced technology. He noted extensive systemic delays and the overly complex and paperwork-intensive application process, which has led to reliance on consultants that has taken funding away from students. Pai also pointed out that the program currently supports projects that are not in line with its original mission and creates weak incentives for efficient spending.
In outlining his student-centered plan for reform, Pai highlighted four key ideas aimed to address the program's problems. He argued for establishing a per-student funding system, refocusing funding toward advanced technologies, simplifying the application process, and increasing transparency and accountability.
To conclude, Pai stressed the importance of providing advanced technology to each student and called on the public to comment on his plan.
Three years ago, the National Broadband Plan called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize its E-Rate program, which subsidizes telephone service and Internet access for schools and libraries. President Obama recently echoed that call when he introduced his ConnectED initiative, and prominent legislators such as Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) have also asked the FCC to take action. The commission is scheduled to address the issue at its next public meeting on July 19.
Please join us for a lunch address on this topic by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. Commissioner Pai will unveil his vision for E-Rate reform, which stresses meeting students’ needs in a fiscally responsible way.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Registration and Lunch
Jeffrey Eisenach, AEI
Ajit Pai, Federal Communications Commission
For more information, please contact Veronika Polakova at [email protected], 202.862.4880.
For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.
Jeffrey Eisenach has served in senior positions at the Federal Trade Commission and the US Office of Management and Budget. As a visiting scholar at AEI, he focuses on policies affecting the information technology sector, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Eisenach is also a managing director and a principal at Navigant Economics and an adjunct professor at the George Mason University School of Law, where he teaches a course on regulated industries. He writes about a wide range of issues, including industrial organization, communications policy and the Internet, government regulations, labor economics, and public finance. He has also taught at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
Ajit Pai was confirmed by the US Senate on May 7, 2012, to serve as one of the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Commissioner Pai’s regulatory approach has been shaped by his decade and a half of experience in communications, law, and policy. Between 2007 and 2011, Pai held several positions in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel, serving most prominently as deputy general counsel. Pai worked in the Washington, DC, office of Jenner & Block LLP, where he was a partner in the communications practice, and also served as associate general counsel at Verizon Communications Inc. His first post in DC was with the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division as an Honors Program trial attorney on the Telecommunications Task Force. He later returned to the Department of Justice to serve as senior counsel in the Office of Legal Policy. Pai has worked on Capitol Hill as well, first as deputy chief counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, and later as Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights.