3 Ways to Support Students Lacking Adequate Broadband
Students in rural areas, in areas just outside of suburbs and in
areas with high population density (subsidized apartments, mobile
home parks) have less access to high-speed internet than their
counterparts in cities and suburbs. There’s also an estimates 1.47
million homeless K–12 students in the United States, who also have
significant issues with access.
This gap in adequate internet access creates differences in the
quality of learning students receive, according to a recently
released report, the Student
Home Internet Connectivity Study, from the Consortium for School
In order to address these inequities, the report’s authors offered
several steps schools and districts can take:
Using E-rate funds to provide hotspots in areas with limited
Working with “ISPs and community leaders to ensure that ISPs offer
suitable plans for the community”; and
Using new funding such as the Emergency Connectivity Fund, to pay
for services that may be outside the scope of E-rate. Some examples
District-provided mobile WiFi, such as on school buses and in
stadiums and other locations that can reach into neighboring areas;
Using Citizens Band Radio Service to extend internet connectivity;
Investing in 4G to provide access in the homes of students who lack
It’s worth noting that, according to the study, students living in
affluent areas do not automatically have optimal internet speeds.
However, in their case, the issue might not be access but other
factors, ranging from “suboptimal network equipment in the home to
multiple devices (e.g., smart devices, Internet of Things, etc.)
accessing the network concurrently. Multiple devices and people
sharing the same network resources significantly reduces resources
available to students for learning.”
The solution in these cases, according to the report, is education
and technical support, which can be provided by the district.
The complete report is available at cosn.org.
About the Author
David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.
He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).