Key Takeaways for CTOs
- A new tool from EducationSuperHighway can help you negotiate a better deal with your broadband provider.
- The tool is a result of a new rule designed to let EdTech leaders see how much other schools are paying for similar services and increase transparency.
- It's already showing results; One school received 500 percent more bandwidth for a 15 percent increase in costs.
- To use the tool, go to www.compareandconnectk12.org and then type in the name of a school district you’d like to compare.
Knowledge is power, and that’s certainly true when you’re discussing the cost of broadband service for your schools. If you knew how much similar-sized districts in your area were paying for internet access, you might be able to negotiate a better deal with your service provider. Now, a new tool from EducationSuperHighway might help.
A New Rule
As part of its E-Rate Modernization Order in 2014, the Federal Communications Commission issued a new rule requiring the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC), the agency that administers the E-Rate, to post information about the services bought by applicants—as well as these line-item costs—on its website for the 2015 funding year and beyond.
The new rule was designed to let EdTech leaders see how much other schools were paying for similar kinds of services, one of many changes intended to keep costs down and improve transparency.
A New Tool for K-12 Technology Leaders
Now, EducationSuperHighway—a nonprofit organization focused on upgrading the internet access in every public school classroom in America—has created a simple online tool that enables K-12 chief technology officers (CTOs) and district technology leaders to search this publicly available information from E-Rate applications.
The new tool, called Compare & Connect K-12, contains information about the amount of bandwidth that almost every district in the country receives, the service provider that offers it, how much the district pays, and the type of connection it is. To use the tool, go to www.compareandconnectk12.org and then type in the name of a school district you’d like to compare.
Increased Transparency and Empowering CTOs
“In our work with school district leaders, we’ve seen school districts significantly increase the bandwidth they receive when armed with knowledge about the bandwidth other school districts are buying with similar budgets,” EducationSuperHighway says. “In spring 2015, for example, we piloted a transparency program that supported 15 districts in rural Virginia in comparing their speeds and pricing and negotiating with service providers to make upgrades. The result was 500 percent more bandwidth for only 15 percent more cost.”
By creating transparency into K-12 broadband speeds and pricing, the organization aims to do for school districts nationwide what it did for those Virginia districts—empowering district CTOs and technology leaders “to make smart network purchasing decisions and get the most bandwidth for their broadband budgets.”
Do you have any secret (or not so secret) tools that can help your fellow districts? Let us know in the comments.