Electronic School, September 1998, p. A22

A Utah school district recently became the first in the nation to install a new technology called DSL — a way of connecting to the Internet that is far cheaper and faster than anything previously available. (“DSL” is short for “digital subscriber line”.)

DSL, available from local phone companies, works over ordinary phone lines and uses a special modem to connect your school’s network or computers to the Internet.

What’s so amazing are the lightning-fast speeds DSL offers for the price: you can get speeds 3 to 25 times faster than a 56-K modem for between $60 and $200 per month. At these speeds, web pages can download almost instantaneously.

But this pioneering Utah district’s experiences do teach some lessons for dealing with DSL.

First, DSL service can be hard to find. Local telephone companies are rolling out DSL only in select, limited areas, and many locations lack the upgraded phone lines and switches DSL requires. Second, when telephone companies do offer the service, they market primarily to home consumers and small businesses — not schools.

How did Utah’s Davis County schools become the first on the block to get DSL? They were aggressive with their local phone company, US West, and they had to agree to be available for publicity when US West starting marketing its DSL service to consumers.

US West also wanted to ensure that the infrastructure they installed to support the school system could later be used to serve nearby home and small business markets. Hence, US West wanted assurances that district and school officials would encourage parents to use the Internet to connect to school web sites to bolster consumer demand for DSL.