U.S. schools will need broadband speeds of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students and staff members by the 2014-15 school year in order to meet a growing demand for Web-based instruction and a skyrocketing number of student-owned Web devices, according to a report by a trade group representing state education agencies.
The report, The Broadband Imperative, recommends schools increase their broadband speeds to 1 Gbps per 1,000 students and staff by 2017-18. Internal WANs connecting schools within districts should be 1 Gbps by 2014-15 and 10 Gbps by 2017-18, said the report, released Monday by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).
Schools are moving away from viewing Internet instruction as an add-on to traditional teaching, said Christine Fox, director of educational leadership and research at SETDA. Many schools are beginning to embrace online textbooks, video conferencing and online collaboration tools, she said during a press conference in Washington.
Broadband access has to be "ubiquitous and the broadband robust," said Fox, co-author of the new report. Broadband has become a "necessary utility" instead of an add-on, she added.