Welch and FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel push to install wi-fi on school buses and close the homework gap for rural students

VermontBiz Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, welcomed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to Williamstown, Vermont, for a discussion on rural broadband buildout, the Central Vermont Supervisory Union’s efforts to install Wi-Fi on school buses, and how communities across the country can take inspiration from Vermont in their efforts to close the homework gap.   

“So many students and educators in rural Vermont—and across rural America—know that learning has to happen beyond the walls of the school, often by necessity when they’re traveling for long distances to get to and from school. And today’s classroom is digital, with assignments that require broadband, strong streaming capabilities, and the need to upload and download files. With limited access, kids can fall into the ‘homework gap,’” said Sen. Welch. “If we streamline connectivity funds, we could help kids learn and stay connected nationwide. I’ve been a longtime proponent of expanding the E-Rate program, and I’m pleased to welcome FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel to Vermont to discuss the FCC’s goals of making this a reality for our students.” 

Senator Welch and Chairwoman Rosenworcel were joined by Matt Fedders, Superintendent of the Central Vermont Supervisory Union, and students and teachers at the Williamstown Middle High School.  

As a member of the House, Senator Welch championed bipartisan legislation, the E-Rate Support for School Bus Wi-Fi Act, to make Wi-Fi and similar technologies on school buses eligible under the FCC’s E-Rate program funding.    

The E-Rate program was authorized by Congress in the late 1990s, and helps deliver telecommunications and information services to classrooms and libraries. The FCC, under the leadership of Chairwoman Rosenworcel, is working to clarify that the use of Wi-Fi on school buses would be an eligible use of E-Rate funding. This proposal is expected to be raised at the FCC’s October 19th open meeting.