By Tim Devaney - 03/20/14 05:44 PM EDT
A group of mayors is urging the Obama administration to bring high-speed Internet to more schools and libraries around the country.
Students at every U.S. school should have access to Internet speeds of 100 megabytes per second right now, and one gigabyte per second by 2017, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) said in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
"This critical update is absolutely needed to bring high-speed broadband to every school and library and Wi-Fi to every classroom," the mayors wrote. "It's the single most important step we can take to connect our children to digital learning opportunities that will give them the technological skills they need for the future."
The mayors said high-speed Internet in schools is just as important as a "chalkboard and textbooks." But they are concerned that students that do not have broadband access in their schools will be "stranded with 20th century technologies."
"Today, however, too many of our children are trying to learn skills for tomorrow, with dial-up speeds from the past," the mayors wrote.
They pointed out that 72 percent of schools do not have adequate Internet.
"As a result, 40 million of our kids are being left behind without access to the broadband speeds they need to succeed," the mayors wrote.
The mayors join a growing number of lawmakers and business executives who have been calling for the changes. In January, dozens of CEOs wrote a letter to the FCC requesting the agency overhaul the E-Rate program to make sure more students have access to the Internet in their schools and libraries.
A group of 25 lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, also wrote to the FCC requesting it expand the E-Rate program to include more schools and libraries as quickly as possible.