FAQ for Compare & Connect K-12
Compare & Connect FAQ : General
EducationSuperHighway is the leading non-profit focused on upgrading the Internet access in every public school classroom in America. We believe that digital learning has the potential to provide all students with equal access to educational opportunity and that every school requires high-speed broadband to make that opportunity a reality
Compare & Connect K-12 is an online tool that allows school district leaders to easily view bandwidth and broadband pricing information for their own and other school districts across the country.
We built Compare & Connect K-12 to create transparency around the bandwidth school districts buy. We believe data transparency is critical for two reasons: 1) it creates informed buyers at the state and school district level who, as a result of transparency, can negotiate more effectively to increase bandwidth for their students and 2) it helps track progress towards bandwidth targets that will enable all students to take advantage of digital learning.
Compare & Connect K-12 has been designed as a resource for leaders in state government and school district administrators including superintendents and technology directors, as well as service providers who are helping districts upgrade their connectivity.
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) on order from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) make E-rate application data available to the public every year. EducationSuperHighway downloads this public E-rate information for sharing and analysis. In 2014, EducationSuperHighway submitted recommendations to the FCC and USAC during the E-rate modernization proceedings and for the re-design of the E-rate application in 2015. EducationSuperHighway is an independent non-profit and is not owned or funded by the FCC or USAC.
EducationSuperHighway is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is funded by foundations and individual donors. A current list of our funders can be found here.
We use E-rate data to provide transparency for state and school district leaders via Compare & Connect K-12. We also use our own analysis of the data to inform the design of programs and products to help state and school district leaders upgrade their K-12 networks for digital learning.
School district leaders can explore bandwidth speeds, broadband pricing, and service providers for their own and other school districts across the country. Armed with the knowledge of the bandwidth purchased by similar districts, school district leaders can ensure they are receiving the most bandwidth for their broadband budget and meeting connectivity goals so their students have the opportunity to take advantage of the promise of digital learning.
In 2014, the FCC adopted the SETDA connectivity goals that represent minimum thresholds for every school to achieve in order to support digital learning today and in the future. Growth beyond the stated goals should be based on utilization patterns.
School Connectivity Goals:
|Internet access||100 kbps per student||1 Mbps per student|
|District transport (WAN)||1 Gbps per school||Scalable to 10 Gbps per school|
E-rate is a federal program directed by the FCC. Also known as the universal service Schools and Libraries Program, E-rate allows eligible schools and libraries to obtain telecommunications and Internet services at discounted rates. E-rate is administered by USAC at the direction of the FCC.
According to the 2014 E-rate modernization order, the FCC mandated that USAC make all information regarding services and equipment purchased by school and libraries publicly available “to increase pricing transparency to help schools and libraries find the best prices for E-rate services.”
The bandwidth goals referenced in Compare & Connect K-12 were established by the FCC in the 2014 E-rate Modernization Order.11
The FCC issued the order to adopt “as bandwidth targets, the State Education Technology Directors Association’s (SETDA) recommendation for Internet access for schools of at least 100 Mbps per 1,000 students and staff (users) in the short term and 1 Gbps Internet access per 1,000 users in the longer term. Internet connectivity will be measured at the district level for school districts and at the school level for schools that are not members of a district.”
“The Order adopts as a target for WAN connectivity the total number of schools that have a connection capable of providing a dedicated data service scalable to the SETDA long-term WAN target of 10 Gbps per 1,000 students.”
About the Data
Compare & Connect FAQ : About the Data
The data on school district broadband services, pricing, connection type, and service provider data was downloaded from USACUniversal Services Administrative Company’s (USAC) E-rate Form 471 filings for 2015 and 2016 (See Download Form 471 Information on the USAC website).
The data about RFPs that have been issued is downloaded from the USAC E-rate Form 470 filings for the 2017 E-rate cycle (See Download Form 470 Information on the USAC website). The filing window for the Form 470 filings opened in July 2016.
School district demographic information, including number of schools, number of students, and locale, together with district type is based on the Local Education Agency Survey Data, published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
School district boundaries used for the state maps are from the U.S. Census.
The time period for E-rate Funding Year 2015 covers services between July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. Funding Year 2016 covers services between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
EducationSuperHighway’s team of data quality specialists called or emailed applicants, technology directors, E-rate consultants and state agency personnel to clarify data for districts that appeared to be inconsistent, and, upon the response, updated the data in our system with the provided clarifications. We also performed analysis on the original data that E-rate applicants entered and created common indicators when the answers supplied by applicants appeared to indicate an inconsistency. In some cases, if applicants entered a description of what they were applying for in the Service Description field of Form 471, EducationSuperHighway staff was able to infer the service they were requesting and, in those cases, updated our data to reflect the applicant’s intentions. If your school district data looks incorrect, please email email@example.com to update it.
Clarification was necessary to ensure that information provided in the E-rate application accurately reflected the services received by school districts. Upon clarification, EducationSuperHighway updated our database to ensure Compare & Connect K-12 reflects what school districts intended to include in their applications.
EducationSuperHighway discovered the greatest inconsistencies in “Purpose” (how the service is used), “Connection Type” (the type of connection for the service) and “Bandwidth” (the download speed of the requested service). Additionally, applicants sometimes did not correctly allocate the service to the recipients of the service. The reason these questions were misinterpreted is mostly due to technical terminology used in the E-rate application that is not broadly agreed upon, varying levels of technical understanding between applicants, and human error. While there were other inconsistencies found, these were the primary issues.
In most cases, the data reflects the updated information after USAC PIA review. However, in some cases, we chose not to accept modified data from USAC where we had received data clarifications that we chose not to overwrite. If you identify an instance where our data does not accurately reflect the services your district receives, please contact us to clarify your information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In some cases, to clarify connection types for a given region or state, EducationSuperHighway contacted the service provider to clarify the type of connection. For example, if an applicant indicated “Ethernet,” then our staff might contact the service provider indicated on the application to determine whether the service is Ethernet over a copper connection or Ethernet over a fiber connection.
No. All costs displayed are prior to any E-rate discounts the district may be eligible for. The costs are intended to show the total cost of providing broadband service to the students in the district and not necessarily what the school district pays.
A school district is defined as any Local Education Agency (LEA) in the 2013-2014 NCES data with valid enrollment data of at least one student. Compare & Connect K-12 includes all school districts indicated as Type 1 or Type 2 districts in the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), with the exception of a few states where Type 3 or Type 4 is more commonly used such as MA, RI, MT, and VT.
School district data that did not reveal any inconsistencies, as well as school district data that was clarified by EducationSuperHighway, was included in a representative sample size for aggregate analysis at a locale, regional, state, and national level. See 2015 State of the States report. If your district is shown with a red block or has any gray question marks for metrics indicating we need your services to be clarified, please contact us so we can include you in our national and state analyses.
If you are a technology director or E-rate applicant for a school district, you can contact EducationSuperHighway directly and we will update your data with the clarifications you provide. Please include the following information in your email to email@example.com:
- Your name and title or relationship to the school district
- School district name or application you are clarifying
- School district’s state
- Services applied for that need to be clarified
- Any services you did not apply for that also represent Internet services received by the students in your district
If your school district did not apply for Internet services through E-rate in the 2015 funding cycle, we likely do not have connectivity data available for your school district. If this is the case and you’d like to see a connectivity report for your district, please contact us with information about the services your school district procures to provide Internet connectivity to your students.
If your school district is less than two years old and has not applied for E-rate, it is possible your school district will not be included. If you cannot find your school district, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The connectivity metrics we use to produce a connectivity summary for your school district come from your school district’s 2015 and 2016 Form 471 E-rate applications. It is common that E-rate applicants inadvertently misreport their connectivity data on the E-rate forms due to a set of common application filing errors.
To ensure our connectivity metrics are accurate, we have analyzed the E-rate applications for each school district to identify inconsistencies in how users completed the information in their Form 471. If your school district’s connectivity summary indicates that we need to clarify your data, please email email@example.com.
Currently, Compare & Connect K-12 does not support school-level reporting. If you’d like to see school-level reporting or any additional reporting on your school district, please send us your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please email us at email@example.com if you would like to edit or add to the data about your school district’s connectivity. Please describe your correction or addition and any relevant information on your school district’s network.
EducationSuperHighway analyzed the prices that school districts are paying across the United States for Internet access and wide area network connections and identified the average cost within the 30th percentile. The 30th percentile became our pricing targets, averaging $3 per Mbps for Internet access and $750 per connection for a 1 Gbps WAN connection.
The $3 per Mbps metric represents a price at which the E-rate program can support all school districts meeting the FCC’s 2018 goal of 1 Mbps per student and is a price already being achieved by over 32% of school districts purchasing 1 Gbps or more of Internet access.
Sometimes state restrictions or service provider contractual obligations prohibit E-rate applicants from sharing pricing information publically. In these cases, the pricing information is listed as “restricted.”
Interpreting the data
Compare & Connect FAQ : Interpreting the data
By understanding how much bandwidth other schools districts in your area buy and how much they pay for those services, schools districts will be armed with information to negotiate for significantly more bandwidth for their schools. Purchasing sufficient bandwidth for your students’ ensures they can meet the minimum bandwidth targets set by the FCC and take advantage of the promise of digital learning.
State and school district leaders and service providers can use this resource to obtain an overall understanding of connectivity in their state or regions. This information can be leveraged to help schools get the affordable bandwidth their students need for digital learning and to measure progress toward reaching the connectivity goals.
This data allows us to understand the progress America’s school districts are making toward providing enough bandwidth to support digital learning for students. The 2015 States of the States revealed that 23% of school districts are not meeting the FCC minimum Internet access goal of 100 kbps per student. Analysis of E-rate data helps us understand what needs to be done in order to connect the remaining 20 million students to high-speed broadband.
Data Terms and Calculations
District WAN connections are Wide Area Network data connections between two or more sites entirely within a school district’s network.
Bandwidth is calculated from the “Download Speed” and “Download Units” values that applicants entered in the E-rate Form 471. Some districts may submit multiple line items of services for Internet access and/or District WAN connections. For Internet access (IA), total bandwidth per district is calculated as the sum of all Internet connections. In some cases where districts bill separately for access to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a data connection(s) from a hub site to the ISP or state/regional network, the lesser bandwidth was taken as the connection capacity.
For Internet access, total bandwidth per district is calculated as the sum of the capacity of all Internet Access connections divided by the total number of enrolled students in the district as reported in NCES data.
Cost per Mbps is calculated using monthly costs, dividing the total monthly cost of Internet Access connections by the total bandwidth capacity reported for those connections. Annual non-recurring costs are allocated across the total contract months to take into account the total cost of the service, in cases where zero monthly cost was reported.
Backbone costs that are shared across school districts have been included where those costs have been allocated. The ratio provides the share of the cost allocated to the school district out of the total amount of the backbone costs.
In analyses where the average cost per Mbps is calculated across multiple line items, the total cost across all line items is divided by the total bandwidth purchased, resulting in a weighted average cost for that group of line items.
Future bandwidth needs are calculated based upon the current student enrollment multiplied by the FCC 2018 goal of 1 Mbps/student, with a concurrency factor for the number of schools.
- Single School and Small districts = 1
- Medium = 1.5
- Large = 1.75
- Mega = 2.25
In order to be good stewards of taxpayer resources, many school districts and state networks use a monitoring based approach to increasing bandwidth beyond the 100 kbps per student threshold. In essence, they procure bandwidth at a level that is 30-40% above their peak usage levels and add additional bandwidth as their usage levels rise. This is an effective approach that EducationSuperHighway endorses, as long as school districts have an effective monitoring solution in place and the ability to increase bandwidth levels at any time during a contract. This approach is also particularly effective for large school districts and state networks, where the benefits of concurrency allow them to add bandwidth at a slower pace because a smaller percentage of users are likely to be on the network at the same time during peak demand periods.
Purpose identifies how a district or school is using the broadband service they have applied for.
- Internet: An Internet access service that includes a connection from any school district site directly to the Internet service provider. View a short video on network terminology.
- Transport (to ISP): A data connection(s) from a school district’s hub site to an Internet service provider or state/regional network where the Internet access service is billed separately.
- Internet (no circuit): Internet access service with no circuit (data circuit to ISP or state/regional network is billed separately).
- Backbone: Backbone circuit for consortium that provides connectivity between aggregation points or other non-user facilities
- Transport ( WAN): A data connection between two or more sites entirely within a school district’s network. View a short video on network terminology.
Some school districts have consortia units that file for some or all of the connectivity services on behalf of the district. Only district-dedicated services have been included under “services and pricing details” for the district.
District locale is sourced from the 2012-2013 NCES data.
Privacy and Access
Compare & Connect FAQ : Privacy and Access
The data available on this portal is publically accessible, in accordance with the E-rate Modernization Order.
You can download this data from the USAC website on the Download Form 471 Information (FY2016) webpage.
Compare & Connect FAQ : Contact us