Washington -- Public libraries in communities with
cable-modem service will be able to receive free high-speed Internet hookups, the National
Cable Television Association announced last Thursday.
The industry hopes to wire the nation's 14,000 to
15,000 libraries and to give them free cable modems.
In July 1996, the cable industry promised to provide free
cable-modem service to elementary and secondary schools as companies deployed
high-speed-data services in local areas. Since then, more than 2,500 schools have been
connected to the Internet through cable modems.
The NCTA said 700 communities will be reached by cable
Internet service by the end of next year.
"The cable-television industry is very excited about
expanding its commitment to education by providing public libraries with this
unprecedented, free high-speed access to the Internet," NCTA president Decker Anstrom
Leo J. Hindery Jr., president and chief operating officer
of Tele-Communications Inc., and Joe Collins, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable, were
also present at a news conference announcing the program.
The federal government is subsidizing Internet hookups for
schools and libraries. The Federal Communications Commission has earmarked $1.275 billion
to hookups this year -- about one-half of what had been originally allocated. The FCC cut
the amount in response to criticism about the program.
Although the government has collected millions of dollars
for the subsidies -- mainly from fees that the FCC imposes on telecommunications companies
-- it has not disbursed any of the funds.
States News Service