eRate survey highlights broadband needs

By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor, @eSN_Laura
October 29th, 2013

Most schools need more broadband to handle mobile deployments and say eRate doesn’t meet their technology needs

Nearly one-third of school districts (29 percent) did not apply for federal eRate assistance because they assumed the program would have insufficient funds for their needs, according to a new survey on school eRate and broadband needs from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

The current eRate funding level fails to meet schools’ broadband infrastructure needs, and almost half of responding districts (43 percent) said none of their schools are equipped to meet the goal of having 100 Mbps of internet access per 1,000 students as things are today. Only 25 percent of school districts said 100 percent of their schools meet this goal, which has been adopted and championed by the State Education Technology Directors Association, the LEAD Commission Blueprint, and by President Obama’s ConnectED initiative.

(Next page: How many districts can support broadband connectivity?)

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2 Responses to “eRate survey highlights broadband needs”

October 29, 2013

In CoSN’s new E-Rate Program survey, it is true that broadband to schools and classrooms topped the priority list for many districts.

However, it is important to note that when asked “What is the most important connectivity upgrade needed in your district?”, 50 of the 469 districts (~11%) answered that off-campus access was their MOST IMPORTANT need (page 8 of the report).

I think many districts place it lower because they still believe the only option is the cost-prohibitive and un-scalable model offered by the major carriers. They need to be aware that they can deliver robust, CIPA-compliant educational broadband access for a cost that is now 60% below that old model.

Even within districts where WAN/LAN is in need of an upgrade, certain schools can have a very pronounced digital divide with off-campus access. Providing education-only, CIPA and school-policy compliant broadband can alleviate that divide for specific users, whether hospital-homebound, virtual, traditional, 1:1, BYOD, etc.

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