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$36 million will speed Internet access at schools and libraries

The state will get $36 million in federal grant money to speed up broadband Internet access at all public schools, libraries and University of Hawaii campuses.

The funding, announced today at an education summit in Waikiki, will go to the University of Hawaii, which will oversee the installation of fiber optic Internet cable to 388 sites statewide over the next two years.

At some schools and libraries, the new wiring will give them Internet access 3,000 times faster than what they have now.

“It’s pretty much the difference between a text message and full motion video,” said David Lassner, UH vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

The announcement of the funding kicked off the University of Hawaii’s Higher Education Summit at the Hilton Hawaiian Village today, where more than 200 educators, lawmakers and business leaders gathered to discuss the future of higher education in the Islands.

Key among their concerns is increasing the number of graduates in high-need fields and stepping up efforts to help at-risk students get into college — and get out with a degree.

U.S. Under Secretary for Education Martha Kanter delivered the keynote address at the summit, applauding attendees for their efforts in improving higher education and urging them to do more to prepare students for the 21st century workforce.

“Students are living in a global economy,” she said. “It’s not enough to educate students … for a job today.”

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