Policy & Funding | News
Broadband Comes Up Short in Most School Districts
A preliminary report from a survey of K-12 school districts has revealed that 99 percent of all districts in the United States will need broadband upgrades within the next three years.
The survey, being conducted by education technology advocacy group the Consortium for School Networking, also found that most district leaders who have participated in the survey so far — about 93 percent of the roughly 450 reporting in — believe that current E-rate funding does not meet their needs. The two biggest barriers to providing adequate broadband in schools, according to the survey, are expenses — both monthly costs and initial capital outlay.
E-rate is the FCC program administered by the Universal Service Administrative Co. that supports schools and libraries with discounts on telecommunications and networking equipment. The program is meant to help institutions outfit and support their facilities with telephone and Internet equipment and services. The FCC is currently receiving public comment on proposed changes to the program.
"The E-rate has done a great job providing basic Internet connection to the classroom. But going forward, our students need stronger, faster networks, so they can build their critical thinking and imaginative skills and compete on a level playing field with their global peers," said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, in a statement released to coincide wit the findings. "As the FCC begins reviewing public comments on E-Rate, the CoSN survey findings detail the hurdles preventing educational progress as well as insights on how to overcome them — including the modernization of this vital program. It is clear that we need substantially more resources in the E-Rate fund to meet current and future needs, as we indicate in the coalition education and library filing."
The survey also found that 64 percent of secondary schools have all classrooms outfitted with wireless, with the same true of 57 percent of elementary schools. And it found that 37 percent of schools participate in consortium buying in one or more cooperative.
The survey is ongoing through this month, and schools are invited to participate. Additional details can be found on CoSN's broadband portal.