FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to bring broadband to America's schools, and he's willing to spend billions to get there. In a call this morning, Chairman Wheeler is announcing a 62 percent increase in the amount the FCC spends on school internet, raising the annual cap on school-related FCC funding from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion. The money will be spent on a combination of outfitting schools with internal Wi-Fi networks and building out the broadband fiber networks to provide connectivity. "While the impact on consumers will be small, the impact on children, teachers, local communities and American competitiveness will be great," the FCC said in a statement.
The money comes from the Universal Service Fund, a small surcharge tacked on to every phone bill in the US. A portion of that fund is set aside for the e-Rate program, which provides funds to pay for connectivity in schools and libraries. This Summer, Chairman Wheeler overhauled the e-Rate program, adding an extra billion dollars in funding, naming Wi-Fi networks as a particular priority, and setting the stage for today's announcement. The commission estimates the total cost to phone customers will be around $2 per household, although those numbers have been disputed.