School and Broadband Connectivity gap being connected with a dotted line

How Publicly Available Broadband Data Can Help Us Close the Connectivity Gap

We believe that transparency drives change. With access to accurate data on broadband speeds and pricing, school district leaders are empowered to find new service options, make informed broadband choices, and get more bandwidth for their budgets. This information is especially important for school districts that lack adequate broadband, as it enables technology leaders to demonstrate the need to decision makers and highlight the opportunities created by network upgrades.

As data published about school broadband networks is often outdated or inaccurate, clean data empowers policymakers to take the steps that are necessary to close the K-12 connectivity gap. It also supports service providers that have traditionally struggled with serving rural areas, or those seeking additional insight into the needs of potential customers.

BUILDING THE FOUNDATION FOR OUR WORK

The data that we collect and clarify helps our team identify new filing trends, understand purchasing patterns outside of the E-rate program, and advocate for a more effective program to support school district broadband connectivity. It also powers our free tools, including:

Most importantly, it helps our team identify those school districts most in need and make sure they have the resources to take action for their students.

NATIONWIDE DATA ACCURACY

Every year our organization embarks on an extensive data assurance process to collect, clarify, and update Internet speed and pricing data for America’s K-12 public school districts. We believe that building transparency around that information and making it readily available is essential to closing the connectivity gap; here’s our approach.

1. Open E-rate Data

Thanks to the Second E-rate Modernization order, all E-rate Form 471 data is available to the public. Our engineering team downloads:

2. State Partnerships

Our collaboration with state leaders, state agencies, state E-rate coordinators, E-rate consultants, and consortia leaders, ensures their in-depth knowledge of the broadband ecosystem in their region is ever-present in our analysis and insights. While helping us to better understand our data they also contact school districts directly in cases where detailed information is needed, such as the WAN connections between schools at a district.

3. School District Surveys

While open E-rate data has allowed us to understand the national landscape of K-12 broadband data, we know that this process is not perfect; school districts often procure Internet outside of the E-rate process to support their technology goals. To get a complete picture of the nation’s connectivity, we rely on the voluntary participation of school districts to update their data on an annual basis.

Around the time their E-rate Form 471 filing, we partner with AASA, NSBA, CoSN, ISTE and AESA to send school districts a brief optional survey on their network upgrade plans for next year. We ask school districts to help us clarify their Internet connections, so we can corroborate their answers with their E-rate Form 471 data. We understand this is always a busy time for school districts and E-rate consultants, so we accept responses on a rolling basis after the 471 filing window closes.

We want to extend our sincere thanks to our partners and all of the state, regional, and school district leaders who have helped clarify their broadband data with our team. Your support ensures that school districts leaders across the country can make more informed buying decisions and get the bandwidth they need to enable digital learning for all students.

To ensure the accuracy of publicly available data continues to help drive the fight for educational equity, please find your school district on Compare & Connect K-12 and update your 2019 district broadband information. For more detailed information about the type of data we collect and our data calculations, visit our FAQ.