Program Simplifies E-Rate Filing Process for Texas Districts

D-Link, a network infrastructure company, today unveiled a new program that aims to help K–12 schools build better infrastructure on a budget. The new D-Link E-rate program simplifies the E-Rate filing process by working with schools and libraries to prepare a technology plan, identify costs, and supply savings on a variety of networking products.

As an example, the company was recently able to help Joaquin Independent School District (ISD) overhaul its core network through the program. The small, rural, 2A-classification district serving about 750 students annually in Joaquin, TX was using old switches that kept locking up and needed to be restarted, according to a case study. It lacked the VLANs and multicasting options it needed and as a result had a single open network. Plus, the number of devices were skyrocketing each year: More than 800 PCs and 500 mobile devices were connecting to the network causing too much traffic.

“I needed a network with a lot more muscle — something that could handle the client load,” said Landon Oliver, technology network administrator and director for Joaquin ISD, in the case study. “Some larger 6A schools don’t mind spending thousands of dollars on switches from more expensive providers, but I didn’t have that kind of money. So I went out looking for a provider who had the same warranty and comparable hardware that was just as strong as popular name-brand competitors.”

Oliver decided to select D-Link to adopt some affordable solutions:

  • A mix of D-Link switches;
  • Indoor and outdoor IP cameras to provide on-the-ground security; and
  • Video management software.

Now, Joaquin ISD has one of the strongest school networks in the area — with the capacity to run nearly 800 LAN connections; about 300-400 wireless connections; 170 IP surveillance cameras; 80 IP phones; new public WiFi; and various virtual machines.

“It’s really been awesome,” said Oliver. “There are eight or nine schools in the surrounding area and I’m proud to say that I probably have the strongest network out of everybody. We have one incredible network. It simply doesn’t go down — it always works."

Located just over a hundred miles southwest of Joaquin ISD, another smaller school district worked with D-Link to support a newly launched 1-to-1 program. Livingston Independent School District wanted to revamp its flat network in order to comfortably accommodate its more than 5,000 students across six campuses using their mobile devices and laptops. But the district faced a “lack of proper network design, configuration and on-site technical knowledge,” the case study said. There was also a lack of security infrastructure, so “if a virus struck anywhere, it spread everywhere.”

Kip Robins, Livingston ISD technology director, decided to go with D-Link as a provider since staff members were already familiar using D-Link products. The district was also using Cisco products at the time, but a complete change to Cisco would have cost the district about $250,000 (not to mention it would’ve lost its annual E-rate funding).

Livingston ISD worked with the company to outfit all school sites with core Layer 3 switches “to enable efficient routing,” and moved from a Gigabit network to a 10 Gigabit network to “future-proof the network for growth over time,” according to the case study. In addition, PoE switches were added to support a VoiP implementation. After completing the installation, the network could handle upwards of 3,000 devices.

As a result, the school district has been able to advance digital learning initiative more efficiently. “Our district is 76 percent low income, so many of these students would never have had this type of opportunity in the classroom,” Robins commented. “It really does help these students to become better citizens once they graduate from our school. Our communication with parents has improved, too.”

To learn more about the E-rate program, or to view either of the case studies, visit the D-Link site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].