The head of the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a plan Monday aimed at delivering high-speed Internet to classrooms and libraries around the country.
To pay for the $1.5 billion proposal, the agency is planning a substantial increase in government fees on all monthly phone bills. Consumers around the country will have to pay as much as 16 cents more per month, according to the FCC.
The increase is necessary, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, to ensure that students are able to access the important online tools and resources they need to prepare for the jobs of the future. About 63 percent of public schools—serving 40 million students—don't have sufficient Internet connections, according to the agency.
"The same digital revolution that gave us Netflix and Youtube also opened new worlds of educational opportunities for teachers, students, and librarians," Wheeler said. "But, unfortunately, while the connected home is commonplace, the connected classroom and library is not."
His plan would be a major expansion of E-Rate, the FCC's education-technology program created by Congress in 1996. The program is just one piece of the Universal Service Fund, which also subsidizes phone and Internet service for poor and rural consumers. All of the Universal Service Fund programs draw their money from fees on monthly phone bills.