High Speed Internet for Schools: A $2 Billion InvestmentAssociation of Educators
February 6, 2014 — 916 views
President Obama recently announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will help give 20 million more students across public libraries and schools in the nation access to high-speed Internet connectivity.
The FCC has doubled its investment in faster internet in schools and has announced that an extra $2 billion will be ploughed in to the program that seeks to enhance broadband connections.
This program, called E-Rate, was chalked out in 1996 and has been funding up to $2.4 billion for schools, and according to the FCC, only half of all E-Rate funding has been directed at providing broadband internet connectivity.
On a recent visit to a middle school in Prince George County, as part of his tour after the State of the Union speech, Obama hoped that in the next five years, 99 percent of American students would have access to high-speed internet. He appreciated the efforts of the Prince George county middle school, where students were using tablets to study.
E-Rate, which helps in providing better telecommunication options to low-income groups, schools, libraries and rural areas, is funded by a nearly 15 percent tax levied on a part of home and wireless bills of consumers. This tax amounts to a few dollar of the consumers’ money and is only a small amount, according to the FCC.
The FCC said the extra funds will be channelized from leftover money from the earlier years, but later, it would come from making changes in the E-Rate program. The reforms in the program might include stopping funding to technologies that no longer serve any purpose – either in paging or internet dial-up services.
Meanwhile, major tech firms have announced a contribution of over $750 million by way of donations to fund President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, which was launched last summer.
The companies have realized the need for schools in the country to have fast broadband connections that will improve learning experiences. While Apple has announced $100 million for iPads and MacBooks, AT&T has promised $100 million for high-speed net connectivity in middle schools. Microsoft has also offered a price break for licensing its operating systems, and so has Verizon which has promised $100 million support to the ConnectED program.
If all goes well, President Obama’s initiative will take away textbooks from schools entirely and depend solely on digital experiences by 2016.