Survey: Schools need faster broadband speeds

Technology’s more prominent position in schools, coupled with students’ relatively easy access to laptops and other internet-enabled mobile devices, leave students craving instant gratification when it comes to technology and internet speeds in classrooms.

And the survey results are telling—students and teachers need fast, reliable broadband access as part of a 21st-century education.

Plans to boost broadband-enabled handheld devices put schools in a unique position, said John Harrington, CEO of e-Rate compliance services firm Funds For Learning.

“The [e-Rate] is a victim of its own success,” Harrington said. “For years we’ve talked about integrating technology,” and more and more classrooms have interactive whiteboards, stream videos, and let students and teachers instantly pull information from the internet, all of which can weigh on school networks.

“What you multiply that across a school district, the demands on the broadband multiply significantly…people want it, they need it, they’re counting on it, and the demand is blowing up,” he said. “The demand for broadband access is pushing up against the limits of the e-Rate program.”

And as young children today–who are already accustomed to constant and instant technology access—enter school, administrators and technology leaders will have to find solutions to provide access to the technology tools that children and parents want and need, Harrington added.

“It’s going to be crucial for the schools to capitalize on the technology and really meet the expectations of students, parents, and teachers,” Harrington said. “As it stands right now, e-Rate is not going to be enough to cover it. Some of that is going to take schools’ reprioritizing and reshuffling some of these dollars.”

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Laura Ascione

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