La. schools get federal funding for Wi-Fi

The Associated PressJuly 15, 2014 

— Louisiana schools will soon be able to tap into a $2 billion pool of federal money to improve wireless connectivity on their campuses. The Federal Communications Commission has approved a plan to funnel the money over two years towards high-speed Wi-Fi in public and private schools and in libraries.

The fund, officially the Schools and Libraries Program, pays 20 percent to 90 percent of telecommunications and Internet access costs for nonprofits. The government gets the money from telecommunications providers, which gets it from consumers.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports (http://bit.ly/1kZix7z ) the expanded program would provide an additional 1,360 Louisiana schools with discounts on contracts with wireless vendors over the next five years, beginning in 2015. Another 272 Louisiana libraries would also get discounts.

Until now, little to no money was given to Louisiana schools for internal Wi-Fi communications. Instead, school systems were mainly reimbursed for their dial-up or ethernet connection costs.

"Even in its best years, the program only historically supported a few schools to get the fastest access," said John Harrington, chief executive officer of Funds for Learning, an Oklahoma-based e-rate consulting firm. To pay for the increased Wi-Fi support, federal officials are gradually paring down funding for non-broadband connections, such as local phone services.

Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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