During the 2014 State Of The Union, President Obama announced that a handful of major tech companies are helping to fund broadband for 15,000 schools. Since last Summer, the White House has aggressively pushed to connect 99% of students with speedy Internet, but it will require billions to get there.
“Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit,” said President Obama.
The FCC has expanded school broadband through the E-rate program, which discounts broadband 20-90 percent. However, in a 2012 report, the FCC finds that “as many as 80 percent of E-rate-funded schools and libraries say their broadband connections do not fully meet their needs” [PDF].
So, last December, some of the biggest names in technology, including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, funded $9 million to the Education Superhighway, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps schools make better IT choices.
Details aren’t available yet, but presumably the collected funding will help America come closer to the roughly $5 billion in technology-related funding requested. As we learn more about the program, we will update.