WASHINGTON -- Students in the District's public schools are receiving the endless learning opportunities provided by the Internet, thanks to a major commitment from Bell Atlantic.
The company today unveiled its new IDEALS (Information Delivery for Education at Libraries and Schools) network, a $4 million effort to wire every Washington, D.C. public school and library to the Internet and local computer networks.
"Bell Atlantic IDEALS will make advanced computer networks and high technology commonplace in our public schools and libraries," said William Freeman, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Washington. "Our initiative will work hand-in-hand with other projects, such as NetDay, to bring technological parity to our educational institutions.
"This project is moving D.C. public schools and libraries out of the technological dark ages. Principals, teachers, students and librarians are receiving a critical tool needed to succeed in the 21st Century."
Bell Atlantic is installing high-capacity circuits, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) lines and Switched Multimegabit Data Service (SMDS) to provide fast, high-bandwidth voice and data communications to D.C. schools and libraries.
Dynamic Concepts, Inc. and Symbiont, Inc., two District-based certified minority firms, are assisting Bell Atlantic as subcontractors on the project. The group has wired more than 50 schools since September, and expects to complete the job by July, 1998.
"Nothing can do more to enhance school reform and nurture the academic hopes and dreams of our children than extensive access to the latest technology," said D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, Jr. "We are very grateful to William Freeman and Bell Atlantic for their visionary leadership in developing and implementing the Bell Atlantic IDEALS program."
In 1996, Bell Atlantic contributed an initial $1 million for the program to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Assistance Fund. This fund was established in connection with a D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) order that allowed the company to be regulated more competitively. The company added another million-dollar installment in January, 1997 and will donate an additional $1 million in each of the next two years. Money for the wiring is distributed from the fund, which is managed by a board of directors consisting of representatives from the PSC, the Library Board, the D.C. Public School System, the Office of the Mayor and Bell Atlantic - Washington.
The money is earmarked to wire all 150 D.C. public schools and 27 public libraries. Half of the money will be used for network investment; the remaining 50 percent will be used for computers, training and technical support.
"These types of public-private partnerships can truly help children improve their performance and help our school system become a model for the nation," Freeman said. "Throughout our history we have helped our community, but this effort is a wonderful way to do something that will have a meaningful impact for years to come."
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.8 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.