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Carriers Back Barack's ConnectED Broadband Plan With Big Bucks

Dan Jones
2/5/2014
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The big 3 US carriers, as well as several other tech giants, are among the companies backing the US president's ConnectED broadband education program to the tune of more than $750 million, the White House announced Tuesday.

President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative on January 29. The public-private partnership aims to bring high-speed Internet to more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students during the next two years to help improve their connected experience. (See Better Broadband Isn't Enough for Schools.)

This Tuesday, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) said it will pledge over $100 million to provide middle-school students with free Internet connectivity for educational devices over their wireless network for three years. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is pledging up to $100 million in cash and commitments for the program. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is pledging "free wireless service for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over the next four years, valued at $100 million."

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), meanwhile, pledged $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other products to help learning in disadvantaged schools. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) says it will deeply cut the price of its Windows operating system for all public schools, making devices more affordable for these establishments.

The government is also contributing money to the program. The US Department of Agriculture is making $10 million in distance-learning grants for rural schools. There will also be a $2 billion down payment on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to connect 20 million more students to broadband, starting in 2014.

You can see the White House fact sheet on the ConnectED initiative here.

Light Reading already has a lively debate on the uses of broadband in education here.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/10/2014 | 6:07:51 PM
Re: Culling the future market?
We saw the same thing with PCs in the classroom in past decades. Schools that new how to take advantage of the new technology made good use of it. Other schools just threw technology at problems, and wasted time and money. 
RitchBlasi
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RitchBlasi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2014 | 10:34:27 AM
Stand corrected, I guess...
Another good point.  To me, calling Facebook, Twitter, etc. social networks is sort of an oxymoron.  Our younger generation is actually becoming socially inept...all communication being done using devices.  I guess the new way of handling the birds-n-the-bees conversation will be done using text, graphs, and images sent over the air.

And yes, just last night, I bought something and the bill came to $10.23.  I handed the young girl $11.25 and she looked at me like I had two heads.  Her mother came over and explained what she had to do.  Pretty sure that is the result of tech in the classroom.

But, if done/used correctly and consistently, I think tech will help out.  It seems every generation gets smarter - but they sure as hell can't play stickball the way I did in Brooklyn!

 

 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2014 | 10:05:41 AM
Re: Education
We (the royal, society we) have been completely sold on the idea that technology makes us smarter and better. So of course we will project that misconception onto the educational system. Here's a tablet, kid -- now go figure out what Pythagoras was going on about.
RitchBlasi
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RitchBlasi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2014 | 9:47:19 AM
Education
Good points all. I've had experience in the past with initiatives like this that fall by the wayside. 10 years ago, teachers weren't as adept at accepting and using technology as the younger breed today. But the tenured folks are still around and hopefully will see that not using technology today will most certainly disadvatage our children when others in the world embrace it.
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
2/5/2014 | 6:54:07 PM
Re: Culling the future market?
The sad thing is that it's the schools that need the most help who have the least chance of having the expertise to know how to benefit from free devices and bandwidth. 

I have a daughter and many friends in education and at upscale suburban schools, the technology becomes a seamless part of the learning process while at rural, cash-starved schools, the teacher gets a used Apple laptop and a brand new smart board that is Windows-based. 

And yes, that's a real-life story. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/5/2014 | 6:03:16 PM
Re: Culling the future market?
Carol - "I'm waiting for someone to say how they are going to help teachers and schools use all this connectivity and these new devices."

Exactly. These devices will be wasted if they end up being used ineffectively, or sitting in a closet somewhere, or hacked (as happened in LA and elsewhere). Several school districts reported problems with tablet deployments.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/5/2014 | 6:01:02 PM
Re: Culling the future market?
I don't have a problem with companies benefitting from doing good. 

However, I wonder if this is a case of throwing money and technology at a problem for which those things are not solutions. Kids really need dedicated teachers. 
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
2/5/2014 | 1:32:54 PM
Re: Culling the future market?
I'm waiting for someone to say how they are going to help teachers and schools use all this connectivity and these new devices.

 
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
2/5/2014 | 12:57:15 PM
Re: Culling the future market?
Hard to judge if its window dressing or actual help right away I suspect. I understand your cynicism though.
RitchBlasi
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RitchBlasi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/5/2014 | 12:55:33 PM
Culling the future market?
First, let me say that I think it is great these companies are ponying up millions-of-dollars for this program...by the way, they've done these things in the past...supporting education.  But one can't help be cynical, right?  Is this simply the ante to collect on a bigger pot later on?  There is a time limit on the dollar commitment, and then what happens?  Also, all these kids who are growing up not knowing what a wired connection is will remember what store to go into to buy devices and services in the future.

This may be altruistic giving at its best and I am just being a dirtbag.  :-)

 
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