U.S. Schools, Libraries Receiving $1.5B From FCC To Upgrade Broadband Access

U.S. schools and libraries are about to receive $1.5 billion in additional funding for broadband Internet, thanks to the FCC. The money will bolster the Universal Service Fund (also known as E-Rate), which helps schools across the country obtain affordable high-speed Internet access and wireless networking equipment, often through subsidies. The decision means you will see an increase in fees on both your landline and mobile phone bills.

The FCC is expanding its program for helping schools buy broadband Internet
FCC Chairman Thomas. E. Wheeler

U.S. citizens already pay 99 cents per phone line each month to the E-Rate program. That fee will increase to $1.15. “If demand for E-rate funds from schools and libraries ramps up to reach the full $3.9 billion cap, the estimated additional cost to an individual rate payer would be approximately 16 cents a month, about a half a penny per day or about $1.90 a year – less than a large soda at (a) fast food restaurant or a cup of coffee,” the FCC said in a statement.

Schools love the program and point to high-speed Internet as a critical educational tool. There are many schools in the U.S. that still have limited Internet access, particularly in rural areas. According to a statement by the FCC, 65% of public schools “don’t have broadband connections to the building capable of taking advantage of modern digital learning.”