The e-Rate can play a significant role in the national broadband plan being developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), panelists said during an Aug. 20 hearing--but for this to happen, commissioners must raise the program's funding cap.

"When the e-Rate began, our connectivity consisted of a few dial-up connections in our school libraries," said Sheryl Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, La. "Today, this has all changed. We now have over 20,000 computers connected to our network, and--at any given moment--over 12,000 of them are accessing the network. Each day, our students, teachers,...

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