Va. Schools Participating in Project to Lower High-Speed Internet Costs

Va. Schools Participating in Project to Lower High-Speed Internet Costs

June 3, 2014

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced on Tuesday that Virginia has been selected to participate in a pilot project to help school divisions lower the cost of high-speed internet access and increase digital learning opportunities for students.

EducationSuperHighway (ESH) — a San Francisco-based non-profit dedicated to improving internet access in schools — selected Virginia because of data suggesting that schools in the Commonwealth are paying more than the national average for internet access and network connectivity.

According to ESH, average monthly megabits-per-second costs for Virginia school divisions are $26 for internet access and $7 for network connectivity, compared with respective national averages of $22 and $3. ESH data also indicate that the percentage of Virginia schools with less-than-ideal access and bandwidth exceeds the national average.

“Ensuring that all Virginia communities have equal and affordable access to broadband technology is a critical component in developing a 21st Century Virginia economy,” said Gov. McAuliffe.

School divisions are using an ESH online portal to report detailed information by the end of August on internet access and broadband pricing. After analyzing the data, ESH says they will produce a comprehensive report in early 2015 on access and pricing for all participating school divisions.

“School divisions will have the ability to compare and evaluate prices across the state and determine whether they are getting their money’s worth in access and bandwidth,” Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson said.

Working with the secretary of technology, Secretary of Education Anne Holton and the Va. Department of Education, ESH aims to identify factors and practices driving up costs for school divisions and provide technical assistance to school divisions on cutting costs by promoting transparency, encouraging competition, and identifying new service options.

“Every student in Virginia deserves access to high-quality digital content,” Secretary Holton said. “Our strategy for closing achievement gaps must include a concerted effort at both the state and local levels to make sure that slow connection speeds and inadequate networks don’t bar the way.”

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