White House intros ConnectED initiative for high-speed Internet in schools

The Obama administration unveils an ambitious plan to connect 99 percent of American students to high-speed broadband and wireless Internet within five years.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

The White House has unveiled a new initiative intended to connect all American students and schools to next-generation Internet network speeds.

Or at least nearly all of them as the ambitious project aims to connect approximately 99 percent of them to high-speed broadband and wireless Internet within five years.

According to the announcement issued by the White House on Thursday, roughly fewer than 20 percent of educators lamented that their school’s Internet connection speeds do not meet teaching needs.

Dubbed "ConnectED," the plan calls upon the Federal Communications Commission to "to modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program to meet that goal."

The White House specified using "existing" funds for network upgrades and training teachers, meaning the FCC will need to rethink and redirect federal funds to meet the goal by 2018.

See also: ZDNet Special Feature: Next Generation Networks

Here's a snippet from the plan:

With access to high-speed broadband and digital technologies, students can have access to more rigorous and engaging classes, new learning resources, rich visualizations of complex concepts, and instruction in any foreign language. Without access to this technology, students would continue to be constrained by the limits of resources at their specific schools – limited by zip code when they could be exposed to global opportunities. With new technology, students also have increased opportunities to work at their own speed and receive additional one-on-one help they need to develop their knowledge and skills.

One thing that might help speed this process along: the initiative does not require Congressional approval or action.

The White House has been busy with its technology agenda lately. On Tuesday, the executive branch took a stand on the ever-brewing patent wars plaguing the industry.

More pointedly, the Obama administration is setting up a new task force to protect innovators from what it described as "frivolous litigation."

Furthermore, the White House issued an edict back in March arguing that it's time to legalize cell phone unlocking.

For more details about the ConnectED initiative, including information about private sector innovation as well as some best practices, scroll through the document below:

ConnectED Initiative: Fact Sheet

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