Landmark Study Calls for Increased Bandwidth for At-Home Learning
The current FCC definition of home broadband — 25 Mbps download and
3 Mbps upload speeds — is inadequate for at-home learning,
according to researchers who conducted a first-of-its-kind study of
district data for students engaged in remote learning.
Home Connectivity Study, conducted by CoSN,
the Consortium for School Networking, with funding from the Chan
Zuckerberg Initiative, looked at data from 13 (mostly large) school
districts representing more than 750,000 students. It found that
activities requiring high bandwidth, such as watching and sending
video, are prevalent in remote learning and that such activities
require much faster broadband at home.
Among the findings:
More than 85% of network traffic in remote learning is used for
More than 70% of students live in a household with other students;
Greater upload speeds are required for synchronous video, such as
when using videoconferencing apps;
92% of students use WiFi rather than a wired connection;
Students often use personal devices in addition to school-issued
devices, upping bandwidth requirements.
As a result, the researchers recommended that adequate home broadband
be redefined as 25 Mbps for download speeds per student,
rather than per household, with additional bandwidth for other
factors, such as other members of the household using up bandwidth
for non-educational activities.
It also recommended 12 Mbps upload speeds per student. According to
the report: “Most broadband connections offer different speeds for
downloading versus uploading. In the past, uploading data was not as
common a task as it is today; therefore, the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) established a household minimum standard of 25 Mbps
for download speed and 3 Mbps for upload speed. However, 3 Mbps is
not an adequate upload speed to support distance learning for an
individual student, let alone multiple students in a household.”
The report also recommended that , ISPs receiving federal support
should remove data caps and “provide unlimited data for home
learning connections without throttling.”
We’ll have more coverage of the Student Home Connectivity Study in
the coming days. In the meantime, the full
report is available at cosn.org.