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K-12 Internal Network Goals

The 2014 First E-rate Modernization Order redistributed the allocation of funding for internal network connections (also known as Category 2 services and equipment) to ensure that every public school in the country could access financial support as they look to upgrade. You can learn more about your district’s available funding using USAC’s calculator tool, or on the website Connect K-12.

Since each school is different there are no formal specifications for the type and the amount of equipment to use. However, there are common guidelines to follow when installing Category 2 services and equipment to ensure you do not encounter bottlenecks and can meet your future needs.

Three students and a teacher looking at a laptop in a classroom
Wireless access points
Your schools should have enough wireless access points that provide sufficient coverage and speeds to support your digital learning environment and devices. While the quantity can vary based on a variety of factors, the average is 1 AP per classroom.
Copper switch ports should be 1 Gbps and support power over ethernet (POE). The switch should have the capability to support at least a 10 Gbps fiber uplink.
Structured cabling
Copper runs should be a minimum of Cat5e and fiber between network closets should support at least 10 Gbps.
Edge devices
Edge devices refers to the equipment directly connected to your Internet and WAN connections. For your Internet connection, this would be your firewall and content filter. For your WAN connection, this would be a router or layer 3 switch. In both cases, this equipment should be able to support your projected bandwidth needs. For example, if you expect to scale to 1 Gbps of Internet bandwidth, make sure your firewall and content filter can also support 1 Gbps of throughput.