Last week, Fort Smith Schools became the first Arkansas school district to connect to the state’s newly upgraded K-12 education network. The upgrade has increased Arkansas Public School Computer Network’s (APSCN) speed to 200 Kbps per student—more than 40 times its prior speed of 5 Kbps per student, for roughly the same cost. Once connected, every school in Arkansas will not only meet, but exceed the 2015 ConnectED goals. The majority of Arkansas’ 276 school districts and educational cooperatives will be connected to higher speeds within the next year, and all but two by July 2017.
EducationSuperHighway partnered with the Arkansas Governor’s office and the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) in August 2014 toward the goal of connecting all Arkansas students to high-speed broadband for digital learning. Working with school districts, education service cooperatives, service providers, state agencies, and legislators, our analysis found that 35 percent of Arkansas schools fell below the 100 Kbps per student required to adequately support digital learning today.
In December 2014, we proposed a state-wide network solution that would help Arkansas meet the current ConnectED goals, fit within ADE’s budget, lower the cost of Internet access for their districts, and continue to be cost-effective with growing bandwidth demand. Governor Hutchinson adopted our recommendations and the state was able to use their existing budget to upgrade APSCN’s fiber infrastructure.
In just one year, thanks to the governor’s commitment to take swift action, close to 500,000 students in Arkansas are no longer waiting for their future to download. We are thrilled to have reached this milestone in Arkansas and we look forward to continuing our mission to connect all of America’s students to high-speed broadband by replicating this work with governors across the country.