Podcast Series: Innovations in Education
Explore the full series of eSchool News podcasts hosted by Kevin Hogan—created to keep you on the cutting edge of innovations in education.
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
Is dark fiber in your district’s future?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began allowing E-rate applicants to apply for discounts for dark fiber and self-provisioned fiber. These “smart fiber” options are seen as a way to give institutions more tools for meeting connectivity demands.
Take our quick poll on dark fiber here.
Key points:…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
FCC approves $9 broadband subsidy for low-income households
Expansion of the Lifeline program will affect more than 13 million Americans
A recently-approved expansion of an FCC program will grant millions of low-income households a discount on internet access in an effort to help close what is becoming known as the digital divide — the lack of reliable high-speed internet access for lower income families.
FCC commissioners voted on the proposed expansion 3 to 2 along party lines, as expected. Eligible households (those at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty level) will now be able to apply the $9.25 subsidy to broadband, wireless, or a bundled voice and internet package. Previously, the program, called Lifeline, was only applicable to phone service.
According to the FCC, nearly all households with annual incomes of more than $150,000 currently have high-speed internet; by contrast, nearly half of those with incomes less than $25,000 claim the same.…Read More
7 things you need to know now about E-rate changes
Big E-rate changes mean schools must chart a new path
A bigger annual cap isn’t the only recent change to the E-rate program. New forms, new data, the potential for infrastructure discounts, and (even more) new funding are all colliding to create one of the most challenging application periods in memory. We asked E-rate guru John Harrington, CEO of Funds for Learning, for his application-time thoughts and advice.
There is a lot of funding available
“This year this is a record amount of money available. The FCC increased the funding cap and they’ve been very diligent about going back and accounting for underutilized discounts. When schools apply for their discounts, they have to provide an estimate, and usually they err on the high side because you can’t go back later. It’s like if I told you, ‘Hey, you can get a discount on your phone bill, but you need to estimate it now.’ You might go back and add a few points.
“There’s often little percentage points that were underutilized, because they just weren’t needed. Those dollars accumulate over time, and, this past December, resulted in a rollover of a few billion dollars. Between the increase and the leftover dollars, they have over $5 billion to commit for projects.”…Read More
FCC’s plan to reclassify internet has big K-12 impact
FCC commissioner seeks to protect the open internet, opening new broadband access opportunities for K-12
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing clear, sustainable, enforceable rules to preserve and protect the open Internet as a place for innovation and free expression. According to an FCC Fact Sheet the common-sense proposal would replace, strengthen, and supplement FCC rules struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit more than one year ago.
“An open Internet allows consumers to access the legal content and applications that they choose online, without interference from their broadband network provider,” the fact sheet states. “It fosters innovation and competition by ensuring that new products and services developed by entrepreneurs aren’t blocked or throttled by Internet service providers putting their own profits above the public interest. An open Internet allows free expression to blossom without fear of an Internet provider acting as a gatekeeper. And it gives innovators predictable rules of the road to deliver new products and services online.”
Evan Marwell, CEO of San Francisco-based EducationSuperHighway, says Chairman Wheeler’s proposals to protect the open internet include one key provision that will be very helpful to any school district or library that is working to bring fiber to their buildings. That is, by “ensuring fair access to poles and conduits under section 224,” the proposed rules will make it much simpler and more cost effective for school districts to obtain the rights of way they will need for fiber construction.…Read More
Wi-Fi in schools: Security vs. accessibility
Wi-Fi in schools can enhance student learning, but addressing the security risks is a good learning opportunity for administrators as well
Wi-Fi has been adopted with great enthusiasm by schools around the country; the opportunities it presents for learning are vast.
So, recent news that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will spend $2 billion to boost wireless internet connectivity in U.S. schools and libraries during the next two years is a great step forward. While FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has called it a “watershed moment” to give wireless access to an estimated 10 million students, privacy experts are raising a collective eyebrow.
One of the possible downfalls to having students on Wi-Fi networks at school is the clear security risk: The network could be hacked, or a student could bring a virus from home onto the school’s wireless network. The very benefit of Wi-Fi in schools—easy, open access—is also the biggest threat. If it’s easy for the students to access, but it’s just as easy for hackers, that means everything on a school’s Wi-Fi network is vulnerable.…Read More
eRate changes aim to cut costs, boost efficiency
New rules encourage greater eRate transparency, volume purchasing
[Editor’s note: This is the sixth and final article in a series examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]
Starting next year, eRate applicants will be able to see how much other schools are paying for similar kinds of services, under one of many changes designed to keep costs down and simplify the nation’s school wiring program.
This greater transparency into eRate contracts could lead to better pricing on telecommunications services, internet access, and internal connectivity for U.S. schools and libraries.…Read More
New discount method could help—or hurt—eRate applicants
School districts must use a single discount percentage for all of their schools, leading to more—or less—funding for some
[Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]
The FCC’s new eRate rules include important changes in how school districts must calculate their discount percentage. Some districts stand to benefit from these changes, while others could see their eRate funding reduced.
In this report, you’ll learn what these changes are—and how they’ll affect your schools.…Read More