American schools need mega-broadband networks -- and they need them soon, a new report says.
Specifically, U.S. educational institutions will need networks that deliver broadband performance of 100Mbps for every 1,000 students and staff members in time for the 2014-15 school year. That's the conclusion reached by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).
Why the need for speed? For one thing, more and more schools are using online textbooks and collaboration tools, said Christine Fox, director of educational leadership and research at SETDA. Broadband access must be "ubiquitous" and "robust," she said, adding that schools should think of broadband as a "necessary utility," not as an add-on.
The report, called "The Broadband Imperative," further suggests that schools should upgrade their networks to support speeds of 1Gbps per 1,000 users in five years. SETDA noted that users who stream high-definition video will require download speeds of 4Mbps.
In Lawrence Township, N.J., students use videoconferencing to learn French from Canadian students, said Andrew Zuckerman, director of instructional services for the municipality's school district.
And in Maine, some schools have 1,400 concurrent broadband users, said Jeff Mao, learning technology policy director at the Maine Department of Education. That many concurrent users "are not going to live on a 10-megabit pipe," he said. "They need a much more robust Internet connection."
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.