FCC proposes $1.5B E-rate increase

Proposal would bring nation’s classrooms into digital age with federal E-rate funding boost

E-rate-internetThe federal E-rate program could see a $1.5 billion increase if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves a proposal set forth by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Nov. 17.

The increase would come as a result of an increase in fees in consumers’ monthly phone bills. According to a program fact sheet, individuals would see an increase of roughly 16 cents per month, or $1.90 a year.

Under the proposal, the annual E-rate program cap would increase from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion.

Today, more than 40 million students do not have high-speed broadband access in their classrooms.

Sixty-eight percent of all school districts said not a single school in their district can meet high-speed internet connectivity goals today. That number jumps to 73 percent for rural districts, which have an even more difficult time accessing fiber networks (41 percent versus 31 percent of urban and suburban public schools).

“While the connected home is commonplace, the connected classroom and library is not,” Wheeler said in a press call to announce the plan.

(Next page: Details about the proposed E-rate increase)

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