FCC and private companies aim to shrink digital divide

The federal government announced a major effort for its initiative to get low-income students and families low-cost computers and high-speed Internet this week.

In a new public-private partnership, Connect to Compete will get $9.95 monthly broadband service to households and $150 laptops and desktop PCs with monitors. Connect to Compete also includes initiatives for digital education and literacy. 

The offer will begin to launch inspring of 2012, expanding to entire footprint by September, for eligible families with at least one student enrolled in the school free lunch program. 

The FCC says 100 million Americans, which is one-third of our country, don't have broadband at home. Broadband adoption is imperitive for America to be competitive in jobs, e-government, education and energy.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski mentions a Federal Reserve study that found "students with a PC and broadband at home have six to eight percentage point higher graduation rates than similar student who don’t have home access to the Internet.” 

Families interested in the program should contact the provider in their area. Participating Internet service providers include Bend Cable, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast (via Internet Essentials), Cox Communications, Eagle Communications, GCI, Insight, Mediacom, Midcontinent, Sjoberg’s Cable, Suddenlink and Time Warner Cable.

Redemtech, a technology refurbishment company, will offer a refurbished $150 computer, that comes with Windows 7 Home Premium and MS Office 2007, preinstalled parental control software and guides for educational, informational and job training.

You can read more about Connect to Compete at their website here or the FCC's fact sheet

Tags: Connect to Compete, Digital Divide, FCC, low income

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