About $28 billion is expected to be raised by a federal government auction of public airwaves (mostly to the wireless telephone firms) over the next decade. One of the better uses of that money would be to connect Americans with valuable information not already on the Internet.
The Century Foundation of New York and four other foundations argue that some $18 billion of the anticipated windfall should be spent to provide access to the extensive resources of universities, libraries, and museums. That would enhance the country's growing knowledge-based economy. It would be akin to the 1862 Morrill Act which gave federal land to the states to sell and use the money to create public colleges.
Spearheaded by Newton Minow and Lawrence Grossman, both former presidents of the Public Broadcasting System, this idea would offer much needed balance to the often entertainment-based, and increasingly profit-driven, worldwide Web.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor