Under the E-rate program of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency will provide a 20-90% discount on internet service application and telecommunication services to support the new learning system during the time of a pandemic.
Cisco Systems, a world-renowned internet network system, is concerned with the threats that come along with the vast network, especially with the surge of incoming applicants. Cisco requested the FCC to allow an extension of the subsidies being granted to educational institutions to have funds for network security as well.
The company submitted a waiver petition to the FCC last Thursday, August 20, suggesting a $1.5 billion budget allocation to safeguard the networks of schools and libraries under the program from cyber threats.
The drastic transition to online learning is hastened due to the pandemic forcing people to stay inside their homes, but leaving their devices and networks at risk from online security threats.
Schools all over the US have laid out strategic plans for the upcoming fall semester, torn between decisions to either conduct all classes online entirely or only partially. Officials from educational institutions are struggling to cope with the need for students to have internet access to participate in classes. When the closure of schools and other establishments was imposed last March at the onset of the virus outbreak in America, it was revealed that 18 million households do not have internet service.
School buses with Wi-Fi connections are parked in residential areas that lack internet access, library networks are being opened in parking lots. However, these are all temporary solutions only. Laptops with LTE connection and WiFi hotspots are also short-term solutions that help aid in the current dilemma that comes with e-learning.
Cisco states on their request that school districts must also be vigilant in protecting children from threats that come with Internet access, even attaching a research study showing educational institutions being the number one target of online attackers lately.
“E-rate Category 2 funding to cover the costs of network security software in the 2020 and 2021 funding years,” states Cisco in the waiver.
FCC already loosened the reins to allow health care providers, educational institutions, and libraries to solicit and accept offers from internet service providers to be granted access to online services that are badly needed during this time of adversity.