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Schools and Libraries to Benefit from Technology Funding & Donations

Schools and libraries nationwide may soon see an influx of computers and software, and gain increased broadband speeds of 100 megabits per second.

These improvements are the result of $750 million in pledged donations from companies and from recent changes to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) funding of its E-Rate grants program.

Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are among the companies who have pledged to support technology in schools.

Apple will provide $100 million in iPads, Macbooks, software and support. AT&T has promised $100 million in mobile broadband services, and Verizon has pledged $100 million in cash and in-kind services to expand digital learning services.

Sprint will provide wireless services for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over four years, while Microsoft’s contributions will take the form of free and subsidized hardware and software.

At the same time, the FCC has committed to use inefficiencies in it’s existing E-Rate grant program to provide an additional $2 billion in funding to schools over two years, bringing high-speed Internet connections to 20 million students in 15,000 schools.

“Harnessing the power of digital technology is central to improving our education system and ourglobal competitiveness. 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 Commissioner Thomas Wheeler (source)

The FCC’s increased funding for the E-Rate program will come from unused past E-Rate funds and from shifting money away from outdated telephone services like dial-up Internet.

These changes are good news for Missouri students, schools, and libraries, many of which are working with outdated computers and software and are located in rural areas with limited or no high-speed Internet.

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