“As public schools nationwide embrace instruction via iPads, laptops and other technologies, many are realizing they lack the necessary broadband speed to perform even simple functions,” Stephanie Banchero reports for The Wall Street Journal. “An estimated 72% of public schools have connections that are too slow to take full advantage of digital learning, according to EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit that tests school broadband speeds and works to upgrade Internet access. The average school has about the same speed as the average American home, while serving 200 times as many users, according to the Obama administration. Expanding high-speed Internet in schools involves upgrading wiring, expanding Wi-Fi capabilities or simply spending more money to purchase faster service.”
“‘Just as people are getting excited about the power of what the Internet offers to students and teachers, they are running into the buzz saw of infrastructure,’ said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway,” Banchero reports. “President Barack Obama has made expanding high-speed Internet a top priority and launched an initiative last summer, dubbed ConnectED, that aims to bring it to virtually every school in five years and to train teachers how to use technology. The administration wants the FCC to modernize the E-rate program and has hinted that a fee increase might be needed.”
“But there has been pushback, including from some congressional Republicans who don’t want fees raised on consumers,” Banchero reports. “Others say the federal program is antiquated — it is still possible to get money for paging service, for example — and needs to revamp how it gives out money. Randolph May, president of the Free State Foundation, a think tank that advocates for lighter telecom regulation, said that before a fee increase, the FCC should ‘determine whether the current money is being spent wisely and whether it is achieving its purposes, which should be to further academic achievement.'”
Read more in the full article here.