How K-12 school districts can help extend broadband access to their surrounding communities
When it comes to providing free broadband access, most communities are far more likely to consider their local coffee shop over their school district, but in reality such institutions can serve as the vital link between high-speed internet capabilities and those families and students who may not have such access at home. And while many Americans do have high-speed broadband at home, such capabilities are not ubiquitous. In fact, according to the FCC’s 2015 Broadband Progress Report, approximately 55 million Americans (17 percent) live in areas unserved by fixed 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband or higher service.
“That gap closed only by three percentage points in the last year,” the FCC points out in the report, leading them to conclude that broadband simply isn’t making its way to all corners of the country as quickly as we might hope. According to the FCC, a digital divide persists between urban and non-urban parts of the country. “While we have made concerted efforts, particularly through the Connect America Fund, to shrink this gap, we have not eliminated it yet.”
Driving the Need for Reliable Broadband
Michael Flood, vice president of strategy at Bethesda, Md.-based wireless provider kajeet, says K-12 students who lack adequate access risk being left out of the digital transformation that’s taking place on the educational front. “Teachers expect students to be able to work online at home, be it for basic research, project creation, or another function,” says Flood. “They aren’t sending pupils home and asking them to do projects on the civil war using a set of encyclopedias; they want students to be able to tap into a wealth of resources. Those resources are generally found online.”