During its last public meeting of 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on Thursday to increase federal funding dedicated to giving schools and libraries across the United States access to high-speed Internet by $1.5 billion a year.
The vote effectively raised the annual spending cap of $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion for what is commonly known as the E-rate program, a service support program that was created by the FCC in 1996 in order to help schools and libraries obtain affordable broadband.
“Today we choose a future where all American kids have access to digital-age learning no matter who they are, where they live or where they go to school,” said Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
According to Recode, the demand to increase E-rate funds far exceeded the $2.4 billion spending cap for years, because it had not been raised in relation to inflation rates.
As a result of today’s vote, telephone bills of American consumers will increase by a mere 16 cents per month ($1.92 a year per phone line), which will go directly to the E-rate program and help schools and libraries in rural as well as low-income urban areas gain access to high-speed Internet starting in 2015.