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Education Networking News

Report Says Schools Need 100Mbps Per 1,000 Users 292

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children dept.
alphadogg writes "American schools need mega-broadband networks — and they need them soon, a new report says. Specifically, U.S. educational institutions will need networks that deliver broadband performance of 100Mbps for every 1,000 students and staff members in time for the 2014-15 school year. That's the conclusion reached by the State Educational Technology Directors Association. Why the need for speed? For one thing, more and more schools are using online textbooks and collaboration tools, said Christine Fox, director of educational leadership and research at SETDA. Broadband access must be 'ubiquitous' and 'robust,' she said, adding that schools should think of broadband as a 'necessary utility,' not as an add-on. The report, called 'The Broadband Imperative,' further suggests that schools should upgrade their networks to support speeds of 1Gbps per 1,000 users in five years."
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Report Says Schools Need 100Mbps Per 1,000 Users

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  • Moar speed! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:13PM (#40210543) Journal

    All the better to torrent with, my dear!

    • re: Moar (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:29PM (#40210741)

      From TFA:

      "Students shouldn't go to school and wonder if they turn on the light, is it going to dim the light in another room?" she said.

      Trust me. They won't even consider that possibility. It's only a problem when it affects them.

      Students also need to have access to broadband outside school, Fox said. "Students need to be able to leave school without wondering, 'Can I watch my teacher's algebra video when I get home?'" she said.

      And that is the core problem.

      The report, called " The Broadband Imperative," further suggests that schools should upgrade their networks to support speeds of 1Gbps per 1,000 users in five years.

      Do they have any idea what the price is for that kind of Internet connection?

      I'd be looking at huge caching servers first.

      • Re: Moar (Score:4, Informative)

        by skids (119237) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:40PM (#40210897) Homepage

        Do they have any idea what the price is for that kind of Internet connection?

        When you get up to buying a gig, not as much /Mbps as the smaller allotments. But you are right, that would be a stretch for most institutions, mainly because their routers/firewalls/content-filtering/etc is not sized for the number of connections/pps that such a pipe would support. They'd be looking at a full re-buy and reprovisioning of their entire gateway path.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I would say caching servers is still doing it wrong. If thousands of students in a single building need access to "online textbooks and collaboration tools", why aren't those services hosted either on the premises or in some kind of colocation facility with a dedicated pipe?

      • Re: Moar (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wiedzmin (1269816) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:46PM (#40210981)

        I'd be looking at huge caching servers first.

        Christine Fox: "What's that?"

        Someone mod parent up. Their requirements clearly indicate the need to repeatedly access same content. Which means that you could cut your bandwidth usage by 999 times when that content, accessed by 1,000 students, is cached locally when the first student accesses it. Can you imagine the cost savings of such a responsible solution instead of knee-jerk response resulting in head-on capacity accommodation?

        • Re: Moar (Score:5, Interesting)

          by pe1chl (90186) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:52PM (#40211065)

          Today's content providers seem to jump through every possible hoop to defeat caching.
          You would think that a video provider would use some indirect URL to first log the access attempt and then point to a static location where the actual video is provided, and that can be cached locally, but no...
          In a new deployment, including a caching proxy probably is a waste.
          E.g. our existing proxy now has a byte-% hit ratio of 11%, falling all the time.

          • Apps (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jmorris42 (1458) * <`jmorris' `at' `beau.org'> on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:32PM (#40211587)

            Thank HTML5 for the death of caching as much as the advertising.

            It is all apps now. And in schools they KNOW they are all incompetent boobs so they want nothing that requires skilled labor to maintain. So outsourcing is the word. Everything. Gradebooks, attendance, cafeteria manegement, email of course, Courseware, scheduling and calendaring, yearbooks. If it isn't being delivered from the cloud now it is because they are still fighting over which vendor they want to write a check to. (read as the bidding is still fierce over who will kick back more.. ok, I'm a cynic) That pattern means they need LOTS of bandwidth now and will need an ever growing amount going forward into an HD Video for everything future.

            And the vendors love it. It will of course drive lots of sales to schools themselves but when the kids can't do their homework without a constant high bandwidth connection it drives the 'Internet is a 'Right'' meme that leads to even more billions and billions of sweet sweet government money that will only be available to the politically connected.

            • Re:Apps (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Phoobarnvaz (1030274) on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:13PM (#40212137)

              Gradebooks, attendance, cafeteria manegement, email of course, Courseware, scheduling and calendaring, yearbooks. If it isn't being delivered from the cloud now it is because they are still fighting over which vendor they want to write a check to. (read as the bidding is still fierce over who will kick back more.. ok, I'm a cynic) That pattern means they need LOTS of bandwidth now and will need an ever growing amount going forward into an HD Video for everything future.

              Having subbed in many local schools throughout the years and reading an article like this...BULLSH!T! You want to know what your tax dollars are being wasted on? Every class which had an assignment and needed computers...the kids weren't doing their work...they were playing games (web-based)...using You Tube...going to ESPN...racing web sites and going to Facebook/other social media sites. Reminding these "little angels" they had work to do and that if they were in an actual job doing these things...they would be reprimanded or fired...I was informed their teacher doesn't care. I let the teacher/the principal/IT department know this was going on...I was the bad guy and told to mind my own business.

              This is what your tax money for education is going for. What a great use of our public resources.

        • One of the points: try to talk to someone at a school about squid services. Watch the blank stare. The web is simply magic; our technology training of teachers is still in the dumpers.

        • by pnutjam (523990)
          WHOA...!
          think if the ISP's who sponsored this study...
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Trust me. They won't even consider that possibility. It's only a problem when it affects them.

        That's because using metaphors that don't fit is stupid. Wondering whether there will be enough bandwidth is a real problem and it sucks to have to worry about it when you're trying to get something done. With as much bullshit as we've laden educators and students alike with, they shouldn't have to wait for lag when accessing educational resources.

        Do they have any idea what the price is for that kind of Internet connection?

        Schools used to get a deal, don't they still?

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        Over here, $250/month gets your a dedicated 45Mb/s circuit if you're a school/library/hospital. Most of the cost is in the circuit. Once fiber starts going live state wide over the next 5-10 years, I expect 1Gb being dirt cheap.

        I found a PDF about that 1Gb/s/user. It is actually 100Mb/s/user internet side and 1Gb/s/user WAN side. So a highly connected WAN and a decent internet connection.
      • by Bengie (1121981)
        I found a quote "1,000Mbps service for about $10,000 annually". Sounds like a good price to me. MMmmmm.. whole sales costs.
      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>> 'Can I watch my teacher's algebra video when I get home?'

        Aren't they exaggerating a bit? I watch hulu and youtube video with only 0.3 Mbit/s. It's called "video compression". So yes the student at home does need broadband to watch his teacher's video, but he doesn't need a monster amount. Comcast's or Verizon's Economy Service (1 to 1.5 Mbit/s) will provide more than the minimum.

        • by zlives (2009072)

          why would the school ( assuming public school) not upload to you tube? HD content and let google manage it

          • How the schools work (Score:5, Informative)

            by jmorris42 (1458) * <`jmorris' `at' `beau.org'> on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:16PM (#40212179)

            > why would the school not upload to you tube?

            You obviously know nothing about the way schools work. There is an entire industry devoted to reinventing every wheel for educational use. Some of it makes some sense, schools have a lot of mandates for privacy and so on, but most of it is simply because. YouTube would be right out, a contract with an edu specific video hosting site would be required, and it would of course require a hefty annual contract with each school system. Each school would have to get a customized portal with the school logo, colors and such or it is a no sale. Access controls are a must. You can't put a picture that includes a student on a school's public facing website without moving a lot of paper for clearances.... meanwhile the local paper's website has the same photo from the game up that day and the kids themselves post everything onto their facebook pages in realtime. And it simply must be this way, the idea that it could be different could never occur. If nothing else, schools simply wouldn't be able to handle the concept of a vendor that doesn't charge.

        • by Bengie (1121981)
          "I watch hulu and youtube video with only 0.3 Mbit/s" - My bandwidth meter shows about 1MB(8Mb)/s sustained for HD YouTube. You must watch the blurry crap.
      • Re: Moar (Score:5, Interesting)

        by kenh (9056) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:15PM (#40211371) Homepage Journal

        My local school district has several Verizon FiOS 115 Mb/sec connections for the district of 4,000 K-12 students. It isn't that expensive, but it is essentially residential-grade service.

        They pay about $200/connection per month, probably $1K/month - much cheaper than the subsidized business class service the district had before, and much faster.

        Our in school wire network is Fast Ethernet to the desktop, Gigabit backbone.

        It was non-trivial to get this service at a public school, due to rate regulations.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Do they have any idea what the price is for that kind of Internet connection?

        I'm sure they do, it's not that hard to price out. Do you have any idea how much heat and AC cost a school with 1000+ students every year? In a 4 season climate it absolutely dwarfs any ISP costs. And gets more expensive every year, while Internet access gets cheaper.

      • Depends where you're at. Some places offer gbps for ~$900/mo. I imagine a large, long-term connection like a university could negotiate a pretty good deal.

  • Caching? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aviancer (645528) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:15PM (#40210577) Homepage Journal

    I suppose that local caching of something as relatively static as a textbook is out of the question? My dead-tree edition books were often cached for 5-20 years. Really, how frequently does arithmetic change from year to year? Literature? Science and "Social Studies" I buy as being a little more dynamic, but still within a year?

    • Re:Caching? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by skids (119237) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:17PM (#40210601) Homepage

      That would be contrary to the whole "send it to the cloud" trending mentality, which is aimed at saving local-server tech support costs.

      • by Aviancer (645528)

        I was never very good at adhering to fashion fads. I suppose that's why I wasn't very popular at school.

        • by skids (119237)

          Well, on a more serious note, most schools already squid heavily, because it's built into their content filtering suite as an add-on feature.

          But then, how often do you actually download truly "static" webpage that wasn't dynamically generated these days?

      • I think its more for the "rent per year" charging for access..

    • by berashith (222128)

      The corporate overlords realy dont want you purchasing something that can be used for 5 - 20 years, when they can enforce a new version of licensed content every year. The big win is that they dont have to go through full publishing costs, but the student access must be fully renewed every year.

    • Re:Caching? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:20PM (#40210643)

      I suppose that local caching of something as relatively static as a textbook is out of the question?

      How do you ensure that the recurring fees are being paid? After all, the point of online textbooks is to bring in money for textbook publishers; making information available to students is just an unfortunate side effect.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Most "material" that the broadband is used for is already saved on local servers.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Kids need to learn how to find and investigate stuff online, not just access text books. Responsiveness is key to maintaining interest and attention too.

      The focus in education has moved away from memorization towards being able to find the information you need. Obviously that has to be underpinned by strong basic skills in things like English and Maths, as well as good general knowledge of the particular subject being studied. Even when I was at school in the early 90s studying history there was as much emp

    • Re:Caching? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Greenspark (2652053) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:35PM (#40210821)
      Aging textbooks were not old because they didn't need updating -- they were old because the publication, printing, and distribution an entire volume to modify a few elements was foolishly expensive. Therefore, textbooks were carefully written so as to exclude information that was would quickly become obsolete. We don't have to keep doing it that way. Examples can be current and relevant, and provide for a much more enriching experience. Links to web resources can be perpetually maintained. It's a very exciting new paradigm and we should be looking for ways to capitalize on its strengths rather than hobble it with the limitations of different media.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The ability to update textbooks on the fly presents an opportunity for too much bias to enter into them.

        Last years updating crew really didn't like president X, and while they are professional enough to not write up a case study on libel, it's easy to see a bit of a slant one way or another.... only to be swung back the following year when a new editing crew comes on-board, and they really like president X, but hate president Y.

        Not to mention things that haven't entirely come to light. Should American hist

        • by zlives (2009072)

          yes but the advertisements that will be displayed with the book pages change every few seconds...

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Just because you CAN buy a gold-plated car doesn't mean you should. Money is finite. We don't need to be spending ~40,000 a month (or ~$500,000 a year) on a high speed internet line when $10,000 worth of reusable textbooks can do the same task for an entire decade.

    • Re:Caching? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by a-zarkon! (1030790) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:39PM (#40210887)

      I have two children two years apart, in the public school system in the northeast US. Our school district is rated fairly well for the state, better than most but not as good as some.

      Now that the context is established, let me say that I have been shocked and somewhat dismayed to see the annual changes to curriculum and approach at the elementary school. While I do understand that gains have been made in understanding childhood development and education, I really struggle to understand this constant churn from year to year. The students struggle with it as well. This is particularly noticeable in basic approaches to reading, spelling, and math. As an example, one year the focus will be on memorizing a list of 10 words, spelling them, and using them in sentences. The next year, the spelling quizzes are gone completely. Maybe this is a response to the standardized testing regimen that all schools are focusing on, but I have a tough time not feeling like this is some kind of ill-considered trend-chasing experiment and our communities' children are the unwitting guinea pigs.

      While I'm in rant mode let me also express my surprise to find that precious little time is being spent on learning basic math facts. These children are being exposed to grouping, estimating, while they still don't know their basic addition/subtraction/multiplication/division tables. Having these facts committed to memory up front will save them a lot of time and effort down the road when they are trying to digest weightier subject matter. (Before you jump all over me, yes as a parent I have worked with my offspring to get them to know their math facts) Rote memorization may be boring, but it too is a skill that must be learned and why not learn it early on in the same way that's worked for at least the past 200 years? It's *not* broken!

      OK so now that the rant is over - yes, caching is good and should be encouraged. Even if the texts are changing daily or weekly and being served "from the cloud" - there are still major performance gains and efficiencies to be found on the network with a little simple cache engine.

      • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

        Having spent five years as the IT head for a school district I can tell you that much of it is following the trends in their field. Real data is hard to find and does not in fact always go to plan when you try it on your district's children. So the administrators see a growing trend to teach in XYZ form and the given improvement can be 10-30%, so they opt to try XYZ at their school. A year is typical for any such thing, so even if it doesn't seem to be working for them they will continue it for that period

      • by timeOday (582209)
        There is an unprecedented level of discontent with public education right now, which is resulting in an explosion of experimentation. Nobody is getting patted on the head for "sticking with what works" because there is no consensus on what that might be. Charter schools, for example, exist for no other reason than to create the "freedom to be more innovative" [publiccharters.org] - and of course churn is the flipside of that.

        The shift towards standardized testing, meanwhile, is meant to allow a variety of pedagogical method

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dnahelicase (1594971)

      I suppose that local caching of something as relatively static as a textbook is out of the question? My dead-tree edition books were often cached for 5-20 years. Really, how frequently does arithmetic change from year to year? Literature? Science and "Social Studies" I buy as being a little more dynamic, but still within a year?

      I'm not the person that would ever use the term "rofl", but if I ever did, it would be about this comment.

      I find your rational thought and naivety amusing.

      Caching a textbook locally would require a huge license and licensing system, or would certainly be illegal. Are you a pirate? Pirates would think that they can make local copies for their own use and the use of others in the name of education, but they would be doing harm to the industry. (Potentially millions or even billions of dollars in harm.)

      Als

      • by Aviancer (645528)

        Bullshit.

        A publisher could easily offer (as an example) a PKI based scheme to cache content for a specific period of time.

        There are easy technical solutions to a variety of these kinds of issues.

  • 100Mbps for textbooks? Text. Um. If your text requires 100Mbps you're doing it wrong. And stop throwing around 1,000 users as if all 1,000 are going to download a gigabyte file all at the same time. Maybe a few dozen out of 1,000 would be using the network at the same time, and if they're actually reading books online and not streaming lolz cat videos in HD there is no way 100Mbps is required.
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:25PM (#40210687)

      100Mbps for textbooks

      It's a new DRM system.

      • 9am. 5000 students accessing the same non-cached 25MB PDF on a 4mbps line.

        Do I need to make the calculations, or can you see where I'm going with this?

    • Um. If your text requires 100Mbps you're doing it wrong. Um. If your text requires 100Mbps you're doing it wrong.

      It's *not* a "text file". It's more likely a locked down PDF or a similarly "heavy" format.

    • What he said. "Textbooks" is really a misnomer these days. "Schoolbooks" should be used instead. Today's schoolbooks are typically full of color graphics. Have you looked at a math or physics book lately?
    • I used to work at a small 2 year college. We had about 30 classrooms, a few thousand FTE students. (12 credits = 1 FTE).. We got complements when we went from 2 to 4 Mb/s. The compliments were all about how much faster it was than their cable modems. (in our area, 5MB cable was the norm). But we had much, much lower latency, and a squid proxy server. I think the most I ever saw online at one time was about 80 people. However, most are reading something, or just have the internet connection open in th

    • Textbooks are often well illustrated. And the old style of textbook is a dinosaur that could do better. The idea is interactive game like lesson plans with quizzes and work areas to help practice the skills or memorize the lessons.

      I took a licensing course online this weekend to pass a certification course (which it also tested for online) and without broadband it would have been painfully slow waiting to advance to the next page. There were also video sections... and if a kid has to wait a minute to wat

  • At first, I thought 100mbps seemed a bit low, after all it's only 100kbps per user, but pragmatically it's more like 3mbps per classroom. You don't need to be streaming individual content to each kid. As much as I despise the overt brainwashing that is most K-12 education, if those subservient lemmings can come out with a bit more content between the ears, maybe they'll be better equipped to think for themselves and add value to their surroundings, unlike the current sad state of affairs.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      You don't need to be streaming individual content to each kid.

      For self-paced learning you do.

  • Depends on Controls (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dakiraun (1633747) <dakiraun.yahoo@com> on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:35PM (#40210839) Homepage

    Speaking as a Network admin at a major university, the amount of bandwidth-per-user really depends on the levels of control the school is allowed (or willing) to apply to the user's Network usage.

    For example, in our residences, students are told they have unfiltered access to the Internet, as in, they are allowed to use any software they wish. The only stated restrictions are overall bandwidth related on a per-day basis. Behind the scenes, a we use packet shaping hardware to limit the total amount of per-user bandwidth usable for such things as P2P or VoIP (to prevent super-nodes) but otherwise leave it alone. In this model, 100Mbps per 1000 students is inadequate, but only just barely. We currently have it at approximately 120Mbps per 1000 students.

    Under tighter control circumstances, where P2P is disabled and/or other controls, caps, and so on are enacted, you can likely get away with less bandwidth. Other networks we distribute have such tighter controls, and allow us to dial the number down further to around 70Mbps per 1000 students (without any web censorship).

    • by skids (119237)

      This is pretty close to the situation in our network, and I suspect these are pretty typical numbers for a higher education residential campus.

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      I havent been in a college in a while, but while I was there in 2003 as a freshman, we had 2 separate networks, the academic network and the dorm network, with VPN connection between the 2. Using that method, based on your work, What would you say the needs of simply the academic side of the network is?
  • by pkinetics (549289) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:36PM (#40210843)
    I submitted my homework, but the intertubes are full and until they are cleared you won't receive my homework.
    • by ocdude (932504)
      This excuse already exists. I run a help desk for a LMS at a university, and I hear this pretty much non-stop from students. It's the new "the dog ate my homework".
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Ted Stevens is still dead.

  • by tiberus (258517) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:38PM (#40210859)

    My wife is a kindergarten teacher. In order for her students to access the content she is required to teach them they must first logon to the machines in the computer lab. (I'll avoid a diatribe on the woes of the poor password practices they are forced to teach these minions...) It can often take 1/3 of her classes computer lab time just to log on; granted much of this wasted time is due to the fact that kindergarteners can't remember their passwords but, an equal amount is also caused by the lag caused when the network is flooded with their logon requests (she has less than 20 students).

    Once they've accomplished the herculean task of getting the little minions logged onto the lab computers the real fun begins. Most of the content is only available online from the publishers of the text books the school uses. Adding insult to injury the publishers sites are difficult to navigate often requiring the students to manually type in long cryptic URLs that would make torrent users eyes bleed. While much of the content is colorful, animated and has pleasing sound effects try and imagine what accessing this content is like on a network that can't handle a few dozen simultaneous logons.

    While I'm a fan of using online resources, the schools (as directed by their boards of education, county governments etc.) seem to have truly put the digital cart before the horse in the mad dash to move toward education online. Also without competent, which of course often means properly paid, tech support (she was once told by a tech the printer wouldn't print because she was using a japanese USB cable) adding bandwidth is pointless.

  • Next up (Score:4, Funny)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:42PM (#40210925)
    Coming soon in Ask Slashdot: "I was assigned to set up a school network (about 100Mbps for 1000 users)..."
    • No - wrong

      Next up. "West Virginia supplies 1 Gbps Networking to all schools using $100,000 routers and money from ARRA funds after it discovers that the T1 line routers they bought last year were obsolete!"

  • by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:43PM (#40210935)

    Rather than place what cannot be more than 10gb of textbooks for the whole school on a local server for students of the school, lets run $10,000/mo fiber to every classroom. The insanity of government waste obviously knows no bounds. The audacity of government "IT managers" is nauseating. What? Is everyone stupid now? We can't count? I know that textbooks don't require a 100 or 1000mbit connection! I don't care if you have 10,000 people per 100mbit! Get a fucking clue! Store commonly downloaded things localaly. Shit, you morons, put the fucking textbook on the local machine (DUH!). Since when is this moronic behavior acceptable?

    While Rome burns the ubermench in the government fiddle away with these "solutions". Now we'll be told for every dollar that we spend on this internet connection we can expect to see 1 trillion dollars in returns in as few as 5 years! Of course, as with every single estimate the government makes, it will be off by orders of magnitude and end up costing 1 trillion dollars in 2 years. At the end of the day I predict that the schools in question will have <10mbit connection at the price of 1000mbit connection, it will somehow drive up the price of internet service for everyone and increase educational spending greatly. All of which will have a negative impact on grades.

    And really, fellow geeks, who thinks that computers on a kids desk during class are anything but a huge distraction from learning? I know if I had a computer at my desk during school, I'd be all about hacking the shit outa that machine and 0% on the lesson. More than anyone, the government is bound by the law of unintended consequences.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a visitor to the US (from Canada eh!) I think you are wasting your money.

    Your kids can not spell, can not do basic math, can barely print their own names.

    Your high school graduates are functionally illiterate: most can not spell well enough to use an online dictionary.

    Your educational system is fundamentally broken, and nobody is addressing it.

    If ignorance is bliss, you have the happiest students in the developed world.

  • So the State Educational Technology Directors Association says we need more ... State Educational Technology. What a stunning conclusion for this completely neutral and unaffiliated group to come up with!

    What schools really need is more education and less "State".

  • That's funny; I need 100 Mbps for ONE user - and would actually like more than that. OK I only have 16 now but I NEED 100.

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