Bill would bring Internet, e-books to low-income students
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a bill today to expand a federal Internet program to bring e-book readers and residential broadband services to students.
Markey was the author of the original e-rate program, a $2.25 billion annual fund used to finance broadband projects for schools. Since the bill passed in 1996 as part of the Telecom Act, schools wired for Web access rose to 95 percent from 12 percent.
"Now with the expansion of the scope of technology, students need more than just Web access at school, and our e-rate 2.0 bill is intended to reflect those expanded needs," Markey said in a statement. He is a former chairman of the House communications, technology and Internet subcommittee.
Along with co-authors Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Markey said the bill will help narrow the digital divide by increasing the number of technologies available to low-income students.
Specifically, the bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission on three pilot programs:
1. Vouchers to allow low-income students to get broadband Internet service at their homes.
2. Funding for broadband equipment and services for community colleges and Head Start schools through a competitive grant program.
3. Discounts on services and technologies like e-books for schools serving low-income students.
February 9, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
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