Apple, Microsoft, mobile carriers pony up for Obama’s school broadband plan

Gigaom

President Obama promised a major push at the State of the Union address to bring broadband access to schools through “philanthropic partnerships.” On Tuesday the philanthropy part of that initiative began to emerge. Apple(s aapl), Microsoft(s msft), AT&T(s t), Verizon(s vz), Sprint(s s), Autodesk(s adsk) and O’Reilly Media have collectively pledged hundreds of million of dollars in software, hardware, services and even some hard cash to the project.

“Today the average school has the same internet bandwidth as the average home,” President Obama said at speech detailing the ConnectEd initiative at the Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Md. Divided among hundreds of students, even a fast residential connection amounts to dial-up speeds for each pupil.

Classroom

The project is intended to connect 15,000 schools and 20 million students with wired and wireless broadband infrastructure in the next two years. The Federal Communications Commission has is restructuring the controversial E-Rate education…

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