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Gordon Brown promises internet connection for all children

LONDON - The Government is planning to ensure all schoolchildren have access to the internet at home by giving families £700 to get online, Gordon Brown will announce later today at the Labour Party conference.

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The new "educational technology allowance", worth up to £700 for households with school-age children who have no internet access, will come from the Children's and Schools budget. The policy announcement will not apply in Scotland.

The grants will cover the costs of technical connection, cabling in the street if necessary, and are worth £300m over the next three years.

It is believed the idea, which is aimed at benefiting some of the estimated 1.4m children with no internet access, has been borrowed from Plaid Cymru in Wales.

Separately, Ofcom today published a number of documents about super-fast broadband including proposals to encourage further investment and competition to deliver the service to UK homes and businesses.

In one of the documents, the media regulator said that delivering super-fast broadband will require investment either in new physical infrastructure or in new technologies.

Ofcom's move comes after BT and Virgin Media announced their investment intentions for such networks.

The regulator said it will now undertake a consultation process on the new technology, but wanted to make sure lessons were learnt from the introduction of broadband.

It said: "In the early days of broadband, limited competition meant there was little choice, high prices and low take-up.

"Consumers were not aware what broadband could do for them, and once they had subscribed, could not easily switch provider."



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