The NTIA recently released the National Broadband Map. As the data is being analyzed, one thing is very clear -- community anchor institutions, such as schools and libraries are underserved.
According to the press release from the NTIA, "The data show that community anchor institutions are largely underserved. For example, based on studies by state education technology directors, most schools need a connection of 50 to 100 Mbps per 1,000 students. The data show that two-thirds of surveyed schools subscribe to speeds lower than 25 Mbps, however. In addition, only four percent of libraries reported subscribing to speeds greater than 25 Mbps."
A report by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), entitled High-Speed Broadband Access for All Kids: Breaking through the Barriers cites several reasons Internet access is so important in schools:
- Students need affordable, high-speed broadband access at home to extend learning 24/7
- Teachers need guaranteed, long-term access to high-speed broadband to enrich the curriculum to include technology applications such as videoconferencing and distance learning
- Students need high-speed broadband access in their schools to take advantage of a wide range of new and rich educational tools and resources available for anytime, anywhere learning
- Students need high-speed broadband access to overcome the digital divide in rural and low socio-economic areas
The next step policymakers will have to take is to address the gaps in broadband availability identified in the mapping, and develop a plan to close the digital divide.