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Obama: High-speed Internet for (almost) all students

Posting in Cities

In the United States, there's Wi-Fi available in our libraries, coffee shops, and even some neighborhoods and cities. But schools? Not so much. In fact, only 20 percent of educators say their school's Internet connection is meeting their teaching needs.

President Barack Obama announced an initiative that could soon change that.

His proposal, ConnectEd, will ask the Federal Communications Commission to connect 99 percent of U.S. students to high-speed broadband and wireless Internet in the next five years.

"Although the United States was once a pioneer in connecting schools to the Internet, we’re now falling behind while other nations move forward with aggressive investment in digital learning and technology education," a White House blog post said. "In South Korea, for example, all schools have high-speed internet connections, and all teachers are trained in digital learning. Printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016."

An ambitious goal, but how will the initiative -- which doesn't need congressional approval -- be paid for? Wall Street Journal has some thoughts.

One possible funding method would be to boost by 40 cents a month the FCC's current universal service fee levied on all telephone lines that have long-distance capabilities; those charges now provide $2.3 billion a year for the E-rate Internet access program for schools and libraries. The government also has dedicated some $7 billion in stimulus funds to rural Internet access, though the rollout has been uneven.

The goal, according to WSJ, is also to be able to stream at 100 megabits per second, 10 to 100 times faster than what's currently available at most U.S. schools.

[via Wall Street Journal and The White House]

Photo: The White House

— By on June 7, 2013, 12:21 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure