Districts say E-rate is critical to their learning goals

A large majority of E-rate applicants (87 percent) said the federally funded program is vital to their internet connectivity goals, according to an annual survey that tracks program applicants’ perspectives on the program.

In the midst of leadership changes in the White House and the FCC, as well as education budget cuts, ed-tech stakeholders have raised questions regarding the promise of the E-rate program to deliver safe and proper broadband connections to students in the U.S.

According to initial feedback from Funds For Learning’s annual E-rate applicant survey, E-rate recipients continue to rely on E-rate funding to provide connectivity for schools and libraries across the nation.…Read More

Does your district’s broadband measure up?

A free tool from nonprofit EducationSuperHighway is intended to help district technology leaders compare broadband and connectivity information with other districts nearby and across the nation.

Compare & Connect K-12, which launched in beta in early 2016 and is now fully launched and available, displays public E-rate application data and lets users explore bandwidth speeds and compare broadband prices with school districts in a specific region or in any state across the country.

The goal is simple: transparency regarding school district broadband and bandwidth pricing data in an effort to help school districts get more bandwidth for their broadband budgets.…Read More

Most districts say E-rate is critical for internet access

A large majority of E-rate applicants (87 percent) said the federally funded program is vital to their internet connectivity goals, according to an annual survey that tracks program applicants’ perspectives on the program.

In the midst of leadership changes in the White House and the FCC, as well as education budget cuts, ed-tech stakeholders have raised questions regarding the promise of the E-rate program to deliver safe and proper broadband connections to students in the U.S.

According to initial feedback from Funds For Learning’s annual E-rate applicant survey, E-rate recipients continue to rely on E-rate funding to provide connectivity for schools and libraries across the nation.…Read More

Infographic: Why mobile technology is hurting some students

[Editor’s Note: Read “Infographic: The edtech challenges faced by immigrant students” here.]

Although most children in families earning below the median U.S. household income have internet access and devices that connect to it, they struggle with being “under-connected.”

Ninety-four percent of families surveyed by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, have some kind of internet access and most have at least one device connecting to the internet, but the quality or consistency of their internet access is lower than they would like it to be.…Read More

How does your district’s broadband stack up?

A free tool from nonprofit EducationSuperHighway is intended to help district technology leaders compare broadband and connectivity information with other districts nearby and across the nation.

Compare & Connect K-12, which launched in beta in early 2016 and is now fully launched and available, displays public E-rate application data and lets users explore bandwidth speeds and compare broadband prices with school districts in a specific region or in any state across the country.

The goal is simple: transparency regarding school district broadband and bandwidth pricing data in an effort to help school districts get more bandwidth for their broadband budgets.…Read More

Innovative district expands access like never before using E-rate

Thanks to a major funding refresh, one district found that it’s now possible to support its one-to-one initiative without scaling back access for other services or devices. Could your district do the same?

The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) historic E-rate modernization in 2014 paved the way for districts to expand their high-speed broadband and wi-fi and increase digital learning opportunities for students.

Before the modernization, Category 2 services were called Priority 2 services and were funded only after all requests for Priority 1 services (telecommunications services and internet access) were funded–but that meant most schools had no leftover E-rate funding for wi-fi equipment and other internal connections.…Read More

5 infrastructure concerns for district technology leaders

The growing need for more internet bandwidth is being pushed by an increase in the number of students with devices, according to CoSN’s Annual Infrastructure Survey.

Increases in online assessments and digital content also drive the need for higher bandwidth, according to the report.

The report addresses key areas of concern for school districts, including affordability, network speed and capacity, reliability and competition, digital equity, security, and cloud-based services.…Read More

New plan advocates gigabit broadband’s arrival in schools

Connecting our nation’s schools, libraries, health clinics and other community anchor institutions (CAIs) to next generation high-speed broadband is an important national priority. In an effort to provide federal, state and local leaders with policy options to ensure that all anchor institutions have high-speed connections to the internet, the SHLB Coalition today is releasing “Connecting Anchor Institutions: A Broadband Action Plan.”

SHLB (The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition) is the leading advocate for open, affordable, high-capacity broadband for our nation’s community anchor institutions and their communities. The recently launched Grow2GiG+ Initiative is a campaign designed to help bring gigabit speed-and-beyond networks to all anchor institutions in America by 2020.

“Anchor institutions are the lifeblood of our communities, and access to high-speed Internet at our nation’s anchor institutions is the first rung on the ladder to success,” said John Windhausen, Jr., Executive Director of SHLB. “The SHLB Action Plan gives policy makers a road map for designing a broadband strategy that promotes education, health care and community enrichment.”…Read More

Dark fiber could be the future of school networking

Dark fiber is helping some districts scale broadband for tomorrow, not today. Is it the future of networking?

After taking steps to update and increase funding for the E-rate program in 2014, this year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began allowing applicants to apply for discounts for dark fiber and self-provisioned fiber.

Seen as a way to give institutions more tools for meeting connectivity demands, these “smart fiber” options are already being used by schools nationwide. With the expanded E-rate opportunities, the number of K-12 districts exploring their dark/self-provisioned options could grow significantly over the next few years.

What is dark fiber?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) does a good job of breaking down traditional and self-provisioned options in a PDF on its website. Basically, self-provisioned options let schools build new fiber networks without using existing fiber optic cables. Schools then own those networks and, as such, are responsible for the related operations and management costs.…Read More

3 Google Fiber programs that could help ease the digital divide

Google’s affordable broadband service is already impacting some communities and schools

The latest Digital Equity report from the Consortium of School Networking paints a picture of an educational environment where schools are at least on the right path to providing access to high-speed wi-fi within their walls (though there is still plenty of work to be done). An equally pressing problem is the fact that the number of pupils with fast connectivity dwindles as they move away from their K-12 hubs—and the divide deepens even further when issues like socioeconomic status, income, and race are taken into account.

According to The Pew Research Center, 82.5 percent of American households with school-age children currently have broadband access at home. This is approximately 9 percentage points higher than the broadband adoption rates across all households, CoSN reports, but there are still 5 million households with school-age children which lack broadband in the home.

“Students in these households experience what is being labeled the ‘homework gap,’” reported CoSN, pointing out that more than 75 percent of school district technology leaders have no strategy for addressing off-campus access.…Read More