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FCC Announces 'Connect to Compete' Partnership

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Wednesday announced the "Connect to Compete" initiative, a public-private partnership that represents the latest in a flurry of activity the FCC has pushed in an effort to increase broadband Internet access and adoption.

In remarks delivered at an event hosted by the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, Genachowski also said there are plans to explore ways the federal E-Rate program, which subsidizes Internet-related purchases at schools and libraries, can expand access to digital literacy training in the direction of ultimately forming a Digital Literacy Corps, a body whose creation was one goal of the National Broadband Plan.

As for Connect to Compete, Microsoft and Best Buy lead a long list of corporations that have signed on to the effort, which Genachowski said is "focused on bringing digital literacy and job skills to all Americans." For its part, Best Buy will put 20,000 of its Geek Squad technology agents to work in 20 cities nationwide to train Americans in basic digital literacy, while Microsoft will launch an online digital literacy training center.

Microsoft had already last month announced a catalog that would provide teachers with discounted hardware and software, another initiative influenced by the FCC. That followed Comcast's announcement that it would provide a $9.95-per-month broadband service to disadvantaged students' families as part of terms with the FCC, agreed to on Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal in January.

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