InfographicClosing the K–12 Connectivity Gap

5 Dec 2017

Despite the progress that’s been made in the past year, schools representing more than 6.5 million students still lack the internet access needed to support digital learning.

Discover the trends contributing to the broadband gap in rural school districts and learn steps schools can take to close the gap for good.

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Closing the K–12 Connectivity Gap infographic

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Closing the K–12 Connectivity Gap

The Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate Modernization Order set a minimum bandwidth target of 1Mbps per student by the 2017–2018 school year, but a connectivity gap persists:

6.5 million students don’t have adequate internet access at school.

2,049 schools lack the fiber infrastructure to support digital learning.

3/4 of schools without adequate fiber are in rural communities.

School investment levels

Districts not meeting broadband targets spend 90% less on connectivity per student.

$1.07 per student per year could help them meet the connectivity goal.

Price transparency in school districts

94% could meet or exceed broadband targets within their current budget by accessing the same deals as peer districts.

58% not meeting broadband targets have one or more peer deals available from their service providers.

2.6 million students could gain adequate connectivity through price transparency alone.

Fiber procurement process

Only 49% of districts in need of fiber infrastructure submitted a request for proposal in the 2016–2017 school year.

1/3 of the schools submitting requests received no bids.

That means only 25% of districts in need of fiber received a bid.

Fiber construction budget

52% of districts have at least half of their E-rate Category 2 budgets remaining.

22% have not used any of their available funding.

18 states have contributed $200 million in matching funds to defray fiber construction costs.

25% of schools in need of fiber can be connected at no cost to the district.

5 steps school districts can take to close the gap

  1. Plan at least 3 years ahead before signing new contracts with providers. Be sure upgrades will serve both current and future demand.
  2. Expand options on your RFP or Form 470 to maximize bids and interest. Get external help if needed.
  3. See what deals other districts are getting. There’s a good chance you can increase your broadband without raising your budget or switching providers.
  4. Stay open to changing providers, especially if your current plan isn’t meeting your needs.
  5. Prioritize funding for broadband infrastructure. $2.35 billion in unspent E-rate Category 2 funding will expire in 2020.

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Source: EducationSuperHighway. (2017). 2017 State of the States.