Private-sector companies and the FCC have responded to President Barack Obama's call to action for more technology and faster broadband in schools.
In his State of the Union address last week, Obama hinted at a forthcoming announcement that would move forward the federal ConnectED initiative, which is designed to bring high-speed Internet connectivity and technology into classrooms.
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, he announced that companies have pledged more than $750 million toward this goal. And over the next two years, the FCC will use $2 billion to upgrade broadband connections and Wi-Fi in schools and libraries through the E-Rate program. Schools should start seeing the results of the investment this year.
Seven companies ranging from cellphone providers to software and hardware producers committed to supporting the initiative.
- For disadvantaged schools, Apple committed $100 million in hardware including iPads and MacBooks, along with content and professional development tools.
- For middle school students, AT&T said it would provide mobile broadband services to educational devices at no charge for three years.
- For every secondary school in the U.S., Autodesk will extend its Design the Future program, which gives schools free access to the company's design software, curricula, training and certification.
- For all U.S. public schools, Microsoft will discount the price of the Windows operating system.
- For every U.S. school, O'Reilly Media will work with Safari Books Online so that schools can access educational content and tools at no charge.
- For up to 50,000 low-income high school students, Sprint will offer free wireless service over the next four years.
- In support of ConnectED, Verizon will provide up to $100 million in cash and in-kind commitments.