Spectrum auctions could fund educational IT

Spectrum auctions could fund educational IT

Up to $5.4 billion in proceeds from the Federal Communications Commission's future sales of electromagnetic spectrum could go into digital outreach under a bill sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.).

The Learning Federation of Washington, an educational technology R&D consortium, said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) will cosponsor Dodd's Digital Opportunity Investment Trust bill, which calls for funding technologies that can place educational materials online.

Dodd last year introduced a similar bill, S 2603, with Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.). That bill never got out of committee.

This year's legislation will be based on a report that Congress commissioned in February. The report, Creating the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust: A Proposal to Transform Learning and Training for the 21st Century, was prepared by the Learning Federation and the Federation of American Scientists, a nonprofit policy advisory organization.

The report recommended funding digital outreach with 30 percent of the proceeds from future spectrum auctions to wireless and broadcast companies. The Learning Federation estimated total proceeds at about $18 billion.

The report recommended that the trust be managed by a nine-member board that would disburse grants to public institutions, companies and individuals. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration would provide financial oversight.

The fund could form the foundation of educational technologies in much the same way the National Science Foundation spurs new research in science, said Larry Grossman, a former president of the news division of NBC and a contributor to the report.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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