K-12 broadband report says DIS stiffs schools, recommends change | Arkansas Blog

Friday, December 5, 2014

K-12 broadband report says DIS stiffs schools, recommends change

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 8:50 AM

click to enlarge PRICE GOUGE: The connections administered by DIS are too slow and too expensive. - EDUCATIONSUPERHIGHWAY
  • EducationSuperHighway
  • PRICE GOUGE: The connections administered by DIS are too slow and too expensive.

A long-awaited report released today by the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway (ESH) delivered recommendations for boosting broadband connectivity in Arkansas schools, an ongoing debate that's pitted internet service providers (such as AT&T, Windstream and Cox) against education advocates, Gov. Mike Beebe and a Walton-backed group called FASTER Arkansas. 

Its conclusions largely support the arguments of the latter side. Ultimately, it says, "connecting districts to an aggregated statewide network for Internet access is likely to be the most effective means for Arkansas to meet ... [federal] goals within its existing budget." More than likely, that means ARE-ON, the state-run fiber optic network for universities. Evan Marwell, CEO of the nonprofit, said in an email, "we believe that ARE-ON should be allowed to compete for the statewide network but also that private providers may end up being the best solution for this network."

A law passed quietly with backing from the private providers several years ago prohibits K-12 schools from using ARE-ON, even though the network has slack connectivity that could be used. FASTER Arkansas and its allies have been pushing to repeal that law, and today's report gives them further ammunition.

In the short term, says the report, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) needs to stop buying Internet service from the Department of Information Systems (DIS), the state technology agency that a recent governmental audit has revealed is troubled by financial problems. The APSCN network that DIS operates for the benefit of public schools uses copper wire, providing subpar connection speeds at a jacked up price. 

APSCN is insufficient for the needs of a school in 2014, so most districts also buy Internet connectivity from a private provider (just like a household or business does). The ESH report shows that the rates charged by DIS are out of whack with the market:

Unfortunately, the ADE’s current investment in the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) is doing little to meet the needs of Arkansas’ public school students. While 58% of Arkansas districts meet the current ConnectED 100 kbps/student target (versus 37% nationally), EducationSuperHighway’s analysis shows that this is due primarily to the fiber-based Internet access purchases that 90% of districts make on their own. ... direct school district Internet access purchases account for 95% of the broadband available in Arkansas K-12 schools while the average price per Mbps ($13) is 95% less than ADE’s $286/Mbps APSCN contract. This suggests that ADE can significantly increase the Internet access it provides to districts by more effectively utilizing its $11 million annual investment.

ESH recommends that ADE stop spending money on an outdated DIS-administered system and issue an RFP to purchase connectivity through private providers instead.

On the face of it at least, that sounds like it will make the providers happy. They won't be as pleased with the long-term recommendations to move towards an aggregated statewide network, since it means they'd likely be competing with ARE-ON in that instance.

Here's the full report:


Tags: , , , , , ,


Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • ADEQ denies C&H Hog Farm permit

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farms' concentrated animal feeding operation near Mount Judea (Newton County). This is a big and somewhat surprising victory for critics who have viewed C&H's large-scale pig farm and the pig waste it generates as an existential threat to the Buffalo National River.
    • Jan 10, 2018
  • Presidential thriller, co-author Bill Clinton, coming to bookstores in 2018

    June 2018 is the expected publication date for a novel collaboration by former President Bill Clinton and crime writer James Patterson.
    • May 9, 2017

People who saved…

Slideshows

  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation