It can be a real challenge for schools and libraries to keep all students and data safe in all locations while also providing appropriate network access. The Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries (E-rate) provides funding to offset the cost of securing your K-12 environment. The E-Rate program was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Over the years, it has helped eligible schools and libraries to have affordable access to the Internet.
Research indicates that almost all U.S. public school districts are connected to high-speed broadband or in the process of doing so. However, that is only the beginning. It is clear that there are many new K-12 use cases that highlight the need for even higher levels of functionality, performance, security, intelligence, and scalability. High-speed networks need to offer more features to support the performance, security, economic, and usability requirements schools and libraries need.
Security tools need to be baked into the networking platform. Native security is a critical issue, and the importance of that cannot be overstated both to ensure a layered approach to cybersecurity and to avoid having to evaluate, buy and manage multiple network security add-on products.
Your networking platform needs to offer a range of speeds to meet operational requirements and remain within your budget limitations. Remember, the platform you have now may meet your current needs, but it will need to scale to be functional as your demands increase.
Automated provisioning is another area that can get overlooked, but bandwidth requirements will continue to grow – especially with the continuing increase in online learning. It can be challenging for IT personnel to estimate how much bandwidth a K-12 organization will need to support new and upcoming use cases. Still, today’s best practices recommend that you pad whatever you may think you need in bandwidth over the next three to four years by at least another 15% to 20%.
Intelligent, robust network platforms are a must for monitoring and management. As resources dwindle, automated solutions and intelligent platforms become indispensable.
Technology isn’t the only important factor. It is important that your organization picks a seasoned technology provider to partner with that has state-of-the-art networking platforms and a proven record of delivering network technology and services built onto a physically diverse, distributed network. You also want to work with a partner who has a lot of experience with the E-Rate process.
It is time once again to apply for 2023 E Rate funding. Work with an experienced E-rate program participant. Fatbeam has worked with the E- rate program for over ten years, deploying dark and lit fiber Wide Area Network (WAN) solutions to over 122 school districts. Fatbeam also provides dedicated fiber-based internet access to a variety of school districts and libraries throughout the 8 western states that Fatbeam operates in. Fatbeam’s reliable network supports between 1 GIG – 20 GIG DIA connections, providing scalability for our customers as bandwidth demands continue to increase for these community organizations. Let us help your school or library organization make the most of your E-rate funding.