FCC Senators Schools WiFi Hotspots

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FCC must step up to help get kids online, senators say

The homework gap among students in the U.S is being shown amid coronavirus shutdowns.

Mar 20, 2020, 11:43 am*

Tech

Andrew Wyrich 

Andrew Wyrich

A group of senators asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create a portal for the public to see where public WiFi hotspots are in their region as schools across the country shut down in response to the spread of coronavirus.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) sent their proposal to the FCC in a letter on Thursday.

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With schools shutting down and turning to virtual days amid the spread of the coronavirus, it has shined a light on the “homework gap,” the millions of kids who do not have access to the internet as part of the digital divide in the country.

The three senators proposed that FCC create a website where people can find publicly available WiFi hotspots, get the latest information about how to get connected to the internet, and find information about how to get assistance from private companies and the government to get connected to the internet.

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“As states temporarily close their schools and move to online instruction to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, the FCC must take action to expand internet availability and keep Americans informed,” the senators wrote in the letter, adding: “Without swift action from the FCC, students from households without access to high-speed internet face challenges in learning from home while their schools are closed.”

The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Dot. We’ll update this story if we hear back.

The proposal from Klobuchar, Peters, and Tester comes just a few days after a group of 16 senators urged the FCC to use funding to allow schools across the country to get discounts on devices that would help students get online during the coronavirus emergency.

They asked the agency to use the E-Rate program, which is used to help schools and libraries get broadband access, to allow schools to get a one-time discount on WiFi hotspots for students who don’t have internet access at home.

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*First Published: Mar 20, 2020, 11:29 am