Can self-provisioning your internet save you money?

Shaving the Costs
In an effort to save on the cost of self-provisioning, Marwell says schools opt to self-provision only the connection that runs from their district office and out to the service provider. That provider then handles the internet access itself (versus the WAN, which is handled by the school).

And while most schools use self-provisioning because “no one else will build them a fiber network,” says Marwell, taking this step also gives districts some control over their own destinies in terms of capacity. “When you build your own fiber network, and once the fiber is in place, upgrading the capacity of that network is incredibly cheap.” The district that wants a 100MB network connecting its schools, for example, can purchase the necessary optical components for less than $100. The same components for a 1GB network would cost $300-$400, while 10GB would be somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500.

“Upgrading the optical components and upping the network’s capacity is incredibly cheap,” says Marwell. “All of the money goes into the actual building of the fiber, so when you self-provision you gain a lot of control and [scalability] for a small amount of money.”

Putting those costs into perspective, Marwell says that a 1GB WAN circuit that’s run by an outside service provider fetches a national average of about $1,200 per month, while a 10GB circuit is about $4,000 per month. “You can see that you’d be much better off spending a couple of thousand of dollars one time [for the actual self-provisioning work] and getting from 1-10GB,” says Marwell, who estimates that ongoing maintenance costs for a self-provisioned network average $100 to $200 per month, “than paying thousands per month to a service provider.”

Next page: Why more districts will be considering it now

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