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Office of the Vice President



For all the years I have talked about the Information Superhighway, I have imagined how it would change the life of a school child from my home town of Carthage, Tennessee, if she could connect to the Library of Congress from her home as easily as she could make a phone call. President Clinton challenged America to make this dream come true when he called on American industry to lead the effort to connect every classroom, library and hospital to the information superhighway by the year 2000. Now, we see that industry can rise to this challenge and that dreams can come true.

Today's announcement by Bill and Melinda Gates will bring more than wires to the libraries; it will bring opportunity. It will do more than connect libraries; it will connect worlds and minds. This is living proof that, in America, we do not just await the future, we prepare for it.

Just last month, the FCC approved a new fund that provides $2.25 billion a year to help connect every library and school to the Information Superhighway by the year 2000. This new fund, or e-rate, gives Internet access to libraries in America,s poorest regions practically for free. This announcement and the FCC's decision to provide discounted Internet access can ensure that people in the poorest communities have the computers, the software, and the connections they need to make sure that the digital divide does not widen, and that the we do not expand the gap between the information haves and have nots. Instead we ensure that everyone, regardless of income, has a place on the Information Superhighway.