George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars franchise and head of a nonprofit group designed to encourage innovation in schools, called on lawmakers June 24 to create a free, "third internet" that would be used solely for educational use, PC Magazine reports. "As we move into the future, most everything’s going to end up wireless and as it ends up wireless, [the government is] going to be auctioning off bandwidth," Lucas told the House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on telecommunications and the internet. "As you auction this off, why don’t you just hold some back for schools and libraries?" Lucas appeared at a hearing about the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), which is intended to provide all Americans with access to telecommunications service. Though providing technology services to underserved areas of the country is a laudable goal, USF funding has been a point of contention for years. The program is currently funded by surcharges on interstate telecom services, which show up on consumers’ landline and cell phone bills. Broadband providers, however, do not pay into the fund, which telecom providers claim is unfair given that some of the USF funds go to provide internet service to schools and libraries under the E-rate program. A number of bills have been introduced to combat the problem, from Rep. Joe Barton’s more market-based approach to other bills that would broaden the base of USF contributors. "I believe that the eventual goal should be to make these connections free for all schools and libraries," Lucas said. "I think that possibly an educational internet, a third internet that is only for education and that is not charged and that the carriers cannot charge would be a rather simple way to solve the problem." Lucas acknowledged that his "goal is ambitious" but said it was as "important as free public schools and libraries themselves."

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