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With E-Rate Data Release, FCC Calling for Feedback

The Federal Communications Commission has released volumes of data pertaining to E-Rate applications and approvals for the 2010 fiscal year, and with it, a call for help of sorts.

In an official FCC blog post Friday, the agency that governs the program used by schools and libraries to subsidize Internet-related purchases called upon other interested parties to help analyze and interpret the data.

With 100,000 unique E-Rate service requests and roughly 1.4 million records describing requests schools and libraries had approved, the category of service they purchased, the prices they paid, and the amount of E-Rate funding dispersed in each case, that may be no easy task.

"We are eager to see what others can do with this data, and to understand what additional data we need to gather and publish to help answer important questions about the impact of the E-rate program," reads the FCC blog.

Any person or organization brave enough to tackle such a challenge will need an SQL-compatible database application to reach the information in question.

The entry says releasing fiscal 2010 data is only a first step and that the hope is to provide similar data from multiple years of E-Rate applications and awards. It also welcomes input from educators about how to make access to such data easier, as well as how to explain the impact of E-Rate on a level understandable by policymakers and the general public.

The entry came just after Funds for Learning, an Edmond, Okla.-based organization that serves as an E-Rate consultant for schools, released the results of its survey of users of the E-Rate program.

It also reinforces the FCC's stated interest in the fall issue of Digital Directions that it is interested in learning from applicants how best the E-Rate program might be altered or reformed to accommodate schools' increasing bandwidth demands.

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