BANDING FOR BROADBAND: In 2014, the New Jersey’s state department of education created regional consortia for school districts to band together to buy high-speed Internet services in bulk. Those who joined saved $89 million and increased bandwidth by 150 percent. Oregon is currently exploring a similar strategy.
These are just two examples of smart broadband purchasing highlighted in a new report, “State K-12 Broadband Leadership: Driving Connectivity and Access,” published by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and Common Sense Kids Action. Their goal is to showcase how state policymakers, district officials, and regional agencies can collaborate to make broadband Internet accessible and affordable for schools. Researchers surveyed state policies in all 50 states and three U.S. territories.
As of 2015, according to the report, 30 states have guidelines and recommendations for broadband connectivity, and 28 states have a high-speed statewide broadband network for their districts. The appendices serve up a useful list of resources available for districts and offers details on the 28 state and territory broadband networks, from Guam to Maine.
According to a 2016 FCC report (PDF) on broadband access, 41 percent of U.S. schools have “not met the Commission’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff.”