The FCC wants to make sure those students in schools and libraries across the country have access to high-speed broadband internet. The FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, is going to announce the plan on Wednesday. The White House has been pushing for all U.S. schools to get faster internet connections, and this move will allow that to happen a little quicker. The extra money isn't going to come directly from new taxes and fees on consumers, though. Currently, our monthly internet bills have a fee for the Universal Service Fund, which includes the program that the FCC is increasing in order to build out this faster internet for schools and libraries. Rather than from an increase in the Universal Service Fund, the funds for this increase will come from unused program money and reallocated funds from older technology, including dial-up internet and other telephone services. The E-Rate program that is included in the Universal Service Fund has an estimated $500 million to $1 billion annually in unused funds. This E-Rate fund has been an area of concern due its seeming mismanagement, but the FCC is going to tap it for the new project of expanding internet for libraries and schools.
The goal is to bring 100 megabit broadband internet connections to all schools in the U.S. This is a monumental undertaking, and even $2 billion per year may not be enough to make it happen. Unlike smaller countries such as Norway or South Korea, where super-fast internet is the norm, much of the U.S. is left with sub-par internet speeds. Although this has been a focus of the U.S. government as well as private corporations for the past two decades, there are still rural areas that can't get anything better than dial-up speeds for their schools and libraries. Whether this will be enough money and enough focus to bring all of America's students the high-speed internet they want is yet to be seen. FCC's Tom Wheeler is also going to announce on Wednesday that companies including Verizon, Sprint, Apple, and Microsoft are contributing an additional $500 million for the project.