By a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, the FCC enacted changes last Friday to the Universal Service Fund E-Rate program to provide $2 billion in funding over the next two years for Wi-Fi connectivity to the nation’s schools and libraries. The Report and Order constitutes a modified version of a draft document that was unveiled two weeks ago by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and that was criticized for boosting Wi-Fi support at the expense of external fixed broadband connections that provide the underpinning of Wi-Fi services. Like the draft document, Friday’s order allocates $1 billion in annual E-Rate support for each of the next two years that will be sourced from unused funds collected previously by the FCC. Wheeler predicted that, as a result of this rule change, ten million additional students will gain access to Wi-Fi “immediately in the year 2015.” The order also establishes a target of $1 billion in E-Rate Wi-Fi support for three additional years that would be paid, in part, by shifting funds from fixed wireline “priority 1” connections. The agency also adopted various other E-Rate spending and transparency reforms that are expected to trigger program savings of between ten and twenty percent for years three through five. Wheeler proclaimed to reporters that “the Wi-Fi gap has been closed” and that the order ensures “we’re meeting the needs of schools and libraries and that we’re meeting that need with efficiency.” Wheeler’s Republican colleagues, Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, however, lamented in dissenting statements that the agency’s emphasis on Wi-Fi ignores the importance of the E-Rate program as a whole. Taking issue with the order’s “single-minded focus on Wi-Fi,” O’Rielly charged that, in spite of the modifications written into the final rules, the order fails to recognize that fixed wireline infrastructure “is still a prerequisite” for Wi-Fi connectivity. Pai observed, meanwhile, that the order does “very little” to streamline the bureaucratic tangle that schools and libraries face in procuring E-Rate support, as he argued that “real reform would have meaningfully simplified the application process” and “would have let local communities set their own education technology priorities.”