ONE way districts are negotiating cheap, reliable internet for themselves

The Economies of Scale

Providing internet across all of its schools allows Oakland County to enjoy the economies of scale and other benefits.

According to Evans, the county pays about $1.40 per MB of internet access—compared to a statewide average price of about $5.00 per MB.

She says the network is reliable and up and running 99.999 percent of the time (a “five nines” in technical speak). “We have very little downtime,” says Evans, “and when the system is down it usually involves an isolated piece of equipment (or, a vehicle accident or ‘squirrel chew’ that impacts the fiber line) and we can quickly swap it out.”

Yet another reason why network downtime is minimal, says Mozdzierz, is due to the county’s use of two different providers. This allows for switching from one circuit to the other in the event of a problem and/or a network failure. “When we have a problem, we move over to the other circuit,” he says, crediting the consortium with enabling this capability.

“As a local school district operating independently, that would be very difficult to replicate, but we’ve been able to work as a group to drive the cost down and increase reliability county-wide.”

Additionally, Evans says being able to scale up internet access easily and affordably has allowed the districts to keep up with the demands of an increasingly tech-oriented educational environment. “The demand for streaming video, web delivery, and other bandwidth-intensive applications has really grown—not to mention the number of devices that each district is now using in their buildings,” Evans points out. “Through it all, we’ve been fortunate enough to pay the same rate while continuing to increase our bandwidth (thanks, in part, to the ‘competitive nature’ of the telecom industry in the region).”

Next page: Plans for inter-building connections


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