FCC Wants Fee Hike To Fund Internet At Schools And Libraries

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The Federal Communications Commission is proposing a small fee increase on phone users to boost funding for Internet connections at schools and libraries.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters yesterday that 63 percent of public schools lack high-speed broadband connections, short-changing over 40 million students: "The fact that the preponderance of those without connectivity are low-income rural and urban schools is particularly unacceptable, so today I'm announcing that we are doing something about it."

Wheeler is proposing an increase of 16 cents per month in the "universal service fee" that is paid by all phone users. That amounts to about $1.90 per phone user per year. The fund was established in 1997 to ensure phone access to all Americans, and was extended to include Internet connection.

The FCC says that the fund was not set up with an annual adjustment and the increase will make a much-needed additional $1.5 billion available per year.

The two Republicans on the FCC board have indicated opposition to the plan, but it is expected to be approved in December with votes from the three Democrats who make up a majority of the board.


This segment aired on November 18, 2014.


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