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Obama wants faster Internet in US schools. Would you pay $5 a year for it?

'We expect free wifi with our coffee, why shouldn't we have it in our schools?' Obama said in pressing for an initiative to urgently upgrade Internet connections at US schools.

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Eighth graders Sam Montgomery (l.) and Alexia Martin (r.) show President Obama their math projects as he hugs math teacher Felicia Dangerfield-Persky during a tour of Mooresville Middle School Thursday, in Mooresville, N.C. President Obama says he wants 99 percent of American students connected to super-fast Internet within five years.

John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer/AP

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Technology is changing education at lightning speed. But thousands of schools in the United States still don’t have lightning-speed Internet connections to take advantage of the plethora of digital learning tools.

That could change dramatically within the next five years, with 99 percent of American students connected to next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless through ConnectEd, an initiative President Obama proposed Thursday.

Mr. Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to improve the federal E-Rate program that subsidizes broadband and wireless connections in schools and libraries. The goal is to improve the infrastructure needed for connection speeds of at least 100 Mbps (megabits per second) – and moving toward 1 Gbps (gigabits per second).

"In a country where we expect free wifi with our coffee, why shouldn't we have it in our schools?" Obama said during a visit  Thursday to Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, N.C.

Mooresville students in grades 3 to 12 are issued a laptop, and all teachers are trained to use digital tools and content. The policy has led to a change in the “culture of instruction – preparing students for their future,” said superintendent Mark Edwards in a statement distributed by the White House.

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