Network Essentials: Understanding the basics of school district networks

By Content Team - April 30, 2019

2 min read

Robust broadband that fully supports digital learning requires that each part of a district’s network be working in unison and at full capacity. If one or more of the pieces of the network is broken or underperforming, then high-speed broadband and therefore rich, digital learning content cannot reach students’ devices. There are three prerequisites to improving school connectivity:

1. Every school needs access to fiber

Every school needs a fiber-optic (or alternative scalable bandwidth) connection. It is the most cost-effective way to deliver high-speed connectivity. Districts with fiber connections on average have 10x more bandwidth.

2. Bandwidth must be affordable

The cost of broadband access has continuously decreased since 2013. From $22 per Mbps in 2013, the cost of broadband today is at $3.26 per Mbps. However, affordability still remains a challenge for school districts as there continues to be significant variation in what districts pay for Internet access, especially for higher-bandwidth circuits.

3. Every classroom must have robust Wi-Fi

Wireless technology allows for connectivity to reach all the way to students’ devices and enables the rich digital learning that can transform our education system. The FCC has allotted $150 per student over the course of 5 years from 2014-19 totaling to over $5B in available funds to upgrade internal networks in every classroom.

The first step in any successful network upgrade is to understand the basic structure of a school district’s network. With a good grasp of the fundamentals of a district’s network setup, school district leaders will be better prepared to communicate with their technology teams and network vendors to accomplish successful network upgrades for their schools.

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