Arkansas Hits 100% on School Broadband Target
- By Dian Schaffhauser
In 2016 106 Arkansas school districts had upgraded their Internet access, leading to 242,378 students obtaining more bandwidth. That brought the percentage of districts meeting the "minimum connectivity goal" of 100 Kbps per student up to 95 percent.
Earlier this month, Asa Hutchinson, the governor who pushed for those upgrades, announced that as of this month every public school, charter school and education service cooperative in the state had been moved to high-speed broadband and had surpassed the target. The latest upgrade to the Arkansas Public School Computer Network means that all 293 of the education organizations now have access to twice the minimum — 200 Kbps per student — most connected by fiber.
That 100 kbps target was originally set by the State Education Technology Directors Association in 2008 for all districts in the country. Since then, the recommendation has been updated. Depending on the size of the district, broadband capacity as suggested by SETDA varies between 87 Kbps and 1,500 Kbps per user.
However, the state-wide coverage is still a feat. Arkansas joins just five other states — Hawaii, Kentucky, North Dakota, South Carolina and Wyoming — that have also met the original minimum goal.
"In 2015, when I issued the directive to connect all our schools, I didn't know exactly how it would look, but I knew for sure that information systems and the education department would get the job done. They did, and the final product looks grand," said Hutchinson in a statement. "Not only are we leading the way, we surpassed the federal goals and set a standard for the rest of the nation."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.