Because mobile broadband speeds are far below those of many wired connections, the prevalence of schools using Mobile Beacon’s service for on-campus connectivity underscores their need for additional broadband capacity. The authors suggest that schools with high-speed cable or fiber connections probably use Mobile Beacon’s service during peak periods when their network is sluggish due to congestion. For schools that do not have high-speed broadband, mobile broadband provides higher speeds than older technologies. For example, according to the report, the Mobile Beacon service is up to 5-7 times faster than a T1 line.
In addition to supplementing network capacity, schools also use mobile connectivity to loan mobile hotspots to students without home internet access. Thirteen percent of the schools surveyed primarily use the service for this purpose. A second report, “Bridging the Gap: What Affordable, Uncapped Internet Means for Digital Inclusion,” surveyed households participating in the Bridging the Gap program, a joint initiative between Mobile Beacon and PCs for People that provides both refurbished computers and low cost, uncapped, and unthrottled mobile broadband service to low-income families. Key education-related findings include:
● 94 percent of parents said having Mobile Beacon’s internet service has helped them better support their children academically
● 54 percent of parents reported their children spend more than 4 hours a week doing homework online
● 95 percent of respondents with school-age students reported they can now communicate with their child’s teachers more often
Although wired high-speed internet connectivity remains the gold standard for both school and home use, service availability and cost are two significant challenges facing schools and their communities. The growing use of mobile broadband solutions highlights the importance of providing students with equitable internet access both in and outside of school.
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