FCC Chairman Proposes Fee Increase to Support E-Rate Expansion

School Infrastructure

FCC Chairman Proposes Fee Increase to Support E-Rate Expansion

Nov 17, 2014

RAISING E-RATE CAP: The first round of changes to E-Rate, the program that subsidizes telecommunications costs for U.S. schools and libraries, focused on freeing up money by reforming inefficient spending practices. Now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which oversees the program, is proposing a more direct way to boost funding. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants a 62 percent--or $1.5 billion--increase on the cap that the agency can spend to bring Internet to schools (from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion).

According to EducationSuperHighway, 63 percent of schools lack the proper Internet infrastructure to support digital learning. There's a cost to the proposal, of course: consumers and businesses could pay up to an additional 16 cents per phone line per month as part of the Universal Service Fund fee on their phone bills. (The currently monthly fee is 99 cents a month for each phone line). A vote on the proposal is expected on Dec. 11. More details on The New York Times.

THE Journal has a few spicy quotes from two of the FCC's five Commissioners who are grumpy about the changes. Commissioner FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said the increase will "impos[e] a greater burden on families struggling to make ends meet."

Here's the 13-page FCC brief.

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