Compare & Connect K-12 leverages federal data to help districts compare bandwidth deals they and their neighbors receive
The nonprofit EducationSuperHighway on Jan. 21 launched a beta version of Compare & Connect K-12, an online tool that makes the internet services that schools receive more transparent.
Through Compare & Connect K-12, school district technology directors and superintendents can easily view broadband pricing and bandwidth information for school districts across the country.
By creating transparency for K-12 broadband speeds and pricing, Compare & Connect K-12 empowers school leaders to make smart network purchasing decisions and get the most bandwidth for their broadband budgets.
“When we released the 2015 State of the States report on the progress of broadband connectivity in America’s schools, we found that 21 million students in America’s schools are still without the speed they need for digital learning,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “Every student should have the opportunity to take advantage of digital learning, and one of the ways to help make that a reality is through transparency. We want every school district to see how much bandwidth they can get for their budget.”
Compare & Connect K-12 provides transparency by leveraging newly-public 2015-16 E-rate application data to display Internet access and wide area network (WAN) speeds and pricing. Anyone can access the beta version of Compare & Connect K-12 by going to: www.compareandconnectk12.org. From there, a user simply types in the name of a school district to get started. Users can explore bandwidth speeds and compare broadband service pricing with nearby school districts in a specific location or across the country.
Armed with knowledge of the bandwidth received by school districts with similar broadband budgets, many district leaders will be able to significantly increase the bandwidth they receive with their existing budget and ensure their students have access to sufficient broadband for digital learning. (The Federal Communications Commission has set K-12 connectivity goals of 100 kbps per student today and 1 Mbps per student in the future.)
In 2015, an EducationSuperHighway transparency pilot program helped five central Virginia school districts work with service providers to make upgrades. The result was 500 percent more bandwidth for only 15 percent more cost, allowing all five school districts to meet a connectivity level of 200 kbps per student — enough to support digital learning in the classroom.
The current version of Compare & Connect K-12 is a beta release. EducationSuperHighway is continuing to improve the tool and is actively seeking feedback that will influence the site’s full release.