Wi-Fi in U.S. Schools Estimated to Cost $800 Million Per Year to Meet President’s Goal of 99% of Students Connected by 2018

CoSN and EducationSuperHighway Build Consensus Model to Project Cost to Upgrade and Maintain Robust Local Area Networks for Digital Learning
Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (May 28, 2014) – CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) and EducationSuperHighway today released to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) an estimate of the additional E-rate funds necessary for robust local area network (LAN), Wi-Fi, and core wide area network (WAN) equipment that will achieve the Administration’s ConnectED vision.

The joint analysis, which builds on CoSN’s 2013 national E-rate survey revealing an enormous gap with U.S. district education networks, estimates a cost of $800 million per year to equip all schools with adequate internal connections by 2018.

“Our survey revealed an unfortunate, but very real picture, with 57 percent of districts reporting their wireless networks incapable of handling a 1:1 deployment today and 40 percent of classrooms with no Wi-Fi at all. However, until now the education community did not have the data to measure the investment required to solve this problem. Now we do,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “The cost model designed by EducationSuperHighway and CoSN shows what it will take to get all our schools up to speed for an enriched learning environment within the President’s proposed timeframe.”

“This estimate is the result of a true collaboration among the technology and education communities,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “We consulted with more than 50 chief technology officers, vendors, and education experts to arrive at a consensus of what it will take to meet the President’s goals and ensure all students are able to take advantage of 21st century learning opportunities.”

The analysis reads:

“[B]y combining our estimates of the equipment schools need for robust LAN, Wi-Fi, and core WAN networks, the cost of that equipment, and the current readiness of school networks, the LAN / Wi-Fi ConnectED Cost Model estimates the baseline funding that will be required to achieve the ConnectED goal of ubiquitous wireless networks supporting 1:1 digital learning. Specifically, the model projects that schools will require approximately $2.9 billion of E-rate subsidies over the next four years to upgrade their LAN, WAN, and Wi-Fi networks. Assuming that libraries add an additional 10% to the upgrade cost, we arrive at a total E-rate subsidy requirement of approximately $3.2 billion or $800 million per year for the next four years.”

The cost model was based on extensive district-level and industry-wide consultation and research to aggregate key equipment and services costs for LAN, Wi-Fi, and core WAN networks in America’s schools. In addition to providing an estimate of the resources required to meet ConnectED’s LAN, WiFi, and WAN goals, the model provides insight into the cost of maintaining these networks over time.

CoSN and EducationSuperHighway’s estimate was released to the FCC for consideration as part of the ongoing proceeding to modernize the E-rate program, which provides technology funding to schools and libraries across the United States.

To read the full analysis, please click here.

Representatives from both CoSN and EducationSuperHighway are available for further comment.

About CoSN (Consortium for School Networking)

CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments. Visit www.cosn.org or call 866-267-08747 to find out more about CoSN’s focus areas, annual conference and events, advocacy and policy, membership and the CETL certification exam.

About EducationSuperHighway

EducationSuperHighway is a non-profit organization with the mission of ensuring that every K-12 public school has reliable, high-capacity Internet access so they can take advantage of the promise of digital learning. Backed by Mark Zuckerberg’s Startup:Education and the Gates Foundation, the team of educators, business executives, and engineers is led by entrepreneur Evan Marwell.

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