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FCC: Nearly all schools connected to Net

Previous disparities between wealthy and poor schools regarding access to the Internet "have virtually disappeared."

Previous disparities between wealthy and poor schools regarding access to the Internet "have virtually disappeared" as a result of the government E-Rate program, Federal Communications Commission chairman William Kennard said today. A report by the U.S. Department of Education and the Urban Institute states that the program, funded by subsidies taken from monthly phone bills, has helped connect 95 percent of the nation's schools to the Internet, up from 65 percent in 1996.

Classrooms still have room for improvement, as only 63 percent have Internet connections, though that is up from 14 percent in 1996. The E-Rate program provides annual discounts of $1.3 billion for telecom services and equipment to 82 percent of public schools, and was created as a result of the 1996 Telecom Act.