For schools, bandwidth limits can be daily concern

Frank Catalano in his Geek Wire column this week, implies the importance of telecom to the acceleration of children's education in the U.S.

He explains that "digital technologies are changing K-12," and "in some cases education has leapfrogged consumer and business" [in this arena]. He writes that web-based education programs are among the list of technologies in this trend. And goes on to say that "existing limits of bandwidth" are a concern.

I asked Frank if by existing bandwidth limits he meant funding limits (i.e. schools with not enough money to get the bandwidth they need). His response was revealing:

"It turns out the limits to bandwidth aren't necessarily just driven by not having enough money to pay for more of it to accommodate web-based programs. Sometimes, there are actual physical limits. An ISP may simply not have more to sell, such as in rural areas. The wiring or structure of WiFi hotspots in a school building may not allow multiple classes at the same time to stream educational video or use certain web apps. One district level technology administrator in a Northeastern state recently shared with me that "a day doesn't go past" where bandwidth limits aren't an issue.

So some of it's money, some of it's technology infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Education did a nice analysis at http://data.ed.gov to show, with drill down, bandwidth availability to schools nationwide. And the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA.org) estimated a pretty high percentage of schools and districts don't have enough bandwidth to meet current needs, let alone more web-hungry apps."

Interesting additional info. And, as Frank said when he closed his response to me, "With luck and persistence, one can hope this won't be as much of an issue by the time your three-year-old son reaches school." Amen!

Caisson is a telecommunications brokerage and consulting company. We are the better way for businesses, not-for-profits and school organizations to buy and manage business telecom. We have been working with schools in the northwest since our founding in 2005, and currently have several school clients. Visit us at www.caissontechnologies.com for more information, or call us direct at (206) 420-0140.