Monday, January 24, 2011

US schools' broadband provision not sufficient to meet streaming video requirements


 In an interesting counterpoint to my previous post earlier today, the FCC's 2010 E-Rate Program and Broadband Usage Survey has this to say about US schools' experience of streaming video:
"Only 11% say that that their current connection completely meets their streaming video needs and even fewer (10%) report that their connections completely meet their video-conferencing needs. This question only refers to the bandwidth to the premises, not internal wiring or other network factors that may affect the actual experience in the classroom or office. As more applications have a video component, schools and libraries will likely need additional bandwidth to take advantage of the full range of educational options available."
...too true, especially if that video component looks anything like Uni TV (we can but hope). A comparative picture of broadband provision for schools in the UK is available here. The FCC report's summary findings also make for interesting reading:
  • Almost All Have At Least Some Broadband: 95% of all E-rate survey respondents have some form of terrestrial broadband connection to at least one facility, while 2% use satellite and 3% use dial-up.
  • Faster Broadband Speeds Needed: However, nearly 80% of all survey respondents say their broadband connections do not fully meet their current needs.
  • Slow connection speed is the primary reason current Internet connectivity does not meet the needs for 55% of these respondents.
  • Cost is a Big Factor: 39% of E-rate survey respondents cite cost of service as a barrier in meeting their Internet needs, and 27% cite cost of installation as a barrier.
  • E-Book Use to Greatly Increase: 56% of all E-rate survey respondents expect to implement or expand the use of digital textbooks in the next two to three years, and 45% expect to implement or expand the use of handheld devices for educational purposes.
  • Most Have Speeds Greater Than 3 Mbps: 10% of E-rate survey respondents have broadband speeds of 100 Mbps or greater and most (55%) have broadband speeds greater than 3 Mbps.
  • More than half of school districts (60%) subscribe to a fiber optic connection.
  • 66% of respondents provide some wireless connectivity for staff, students or library patrons.
  • E-Mail Essential for Schools: For schools, e-mail is the most-used application (almost all schools, 98%, regularly use or access e-mail), and the most essential (69% consider it the most essential).  
  • Libraries Rely on Online Reference Materials: For libraries, online reference materials are both the most used application (86% of staff and patrons regularly use or access online reference materials) and the most essential (62% consider it the most essential)
The need to support concurrent usage (multiple users accessing multiple, complex, media-rich applications simultaneously) seems to be the underlying driver here, a situation likely to be exacerbated by the fact that almost half of the schools surveyed plan to expand the use of handheld devices for educational purposes.

1 comment:

  1. 10% have broadband speeds of 100 Mbps or greater most (55%) have broadband speeds greater than 3Mbps
    More than half of school districts (60%) subscribe to a fiber optic connection

    and yet only 10% have what they need ? So much for fibre as a cure-all.

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