FCC’s Wheeler proposes phone fee hike to fund school broadband

Another political brouhaha is fulminating in Washington around E-Rate, the federal program that funds broadband in schools and public libraries. After earmarking more E-Rate funds Wi-Fi in July, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler on Monday proposed raising the cap on funds available for general broadband by $1.5 billion. Paying for that would require a hike in federal fees applied to phone service, which Wheeler said would amount to about $1.90 a year on the average consumer’s bill. But Republicans, including FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, said it amounted to 17.2 percent tax increase and pledged to oppose it.