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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Study Estimates Cost to Connect All Students

While there’s been plenty of discussion about providing high-speed Internet access to all students, there’s not been as much talk about how much that might cost. Research from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the EducationSuperHighway puts the figure at about $3.2 billion.

The total includes the cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining equipment to meet classroom needs for local area network (LAN), wide-area network (WAN), and WiFi. CoSN and EducationSuperHighway surveyed 50 district chief technology officers, equipment vendors, and networking experts to come up with per-classroom, per-school, and per-district cost estimates.

“This is the first time that we have come out with an actual number,” Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway, told EdSurge. “It’s based on an actual analysis rather than simply saying, ‘Let’s double the pool of funds needed for more broadband.’”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently reported it had already committed $450 million for broadband for schools and libraries. It is also working on updating the E-rate policies that subsidize school and library purchases of telecommunications services.

“We’re hearing that the FCC will do something at the July meeting,” Marwell said. “Some issues have a lot of consensus, such as focusing the [E-rate] money on broadband and phasing out ‘legacy services.’”

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