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U.S. Schools Get $2 Billion Infusion for High-Speed Internet

Ella Russell, 7, working on an e-book on an iPad during her second grade class at Jamestown Elementary School in Arlington, Va., in November.

Ella Russell, 7, working on an e-book on an iPad during her second grade class at Jamestown Elementary School in Arlington, Va., in November. // Jacquelyn Martin/AP

U.S. schools and libraries will get a $2 billion dollar infusion from the Federal Communications Commission for high-speed Internet access.

The FCC announced plans Monday to double its investment in schools' broadband networks over the next two years through the agency's E-Rate program.

The FCC's move is one leg of the Obama administration's plan to connect 99 percent of U.S. schools to high-speed Internet within the next five years, reaffirmed by the president in his State of the Union address.

"In the Internet age, every student in America should have access to state-of-the-art educational tools, which are increasingly interactive, individualized, and bandwidth-intensive," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.

The additional money will come from a reorganization of E-Rate's funds, not from an increase in rates for wireless and phone customers.

"By applying business-like management practices to E-Rate, we can take steps this year that will make existing funds go farther to significantly increase our investment in high-speed broadband connectivity for schools and libraries for the benefit of our students and teachers," Wheeler said.

The investment is one part of comprehensive E-Rate reform that began last year and has been accelerated by the new chairman. The E-Rate program was established in 1996 as part of the Universal Service Fund and has connected most schools and libraries with basic Internet access.

The president Tuesday is expected to announce additional funding through private partnerships with companies including Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon.

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