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Government Education Networking The Almighty Buck IT Politics

FCC Approves Subsidy Plan to Upgrade School and Library Networks 70

Posted by timothy
from the ask-for-a-mile-in-hopes-of-an-inch dept.
The Washington Post reports that, "In a 3-2 vote along party lines Friday, the FCC greenlit a plan to spend $2 billion over the next two years on subsidies for internal networks. The move also begins a process to phase out some subsidies under the federal program, known as E-Rate, for services and equipment that are on the decline, such as pagers and dial-up Internet service." That sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but as usual in politics it's the result of a messy process: The original plan called for spending $5 billion on WiFi over five years, in line with a push by the Obama administration to bring next-gen broadband and WiFi to 99 percent of students over the same period. Those funds would have partly come from savings as a result of transitioning away from supporting legacy technologies. The proposal would also have eliminated an existing requirement that E-Rate funds be spent first on broadband services before being applied to WiFi. In past years, the cost of broadband service meant that money was rarely left over for upgrading WiFi connections. But the FCC's proposal was ultimately scaled back late Thursday amid Republican objections that the E-Rate program can't afford the changes. The final proposal's two-year, $2 billion commitment accounts for the money the FCC has already set aside for WiFi upgrades, but it does not commit the FCC to funding WiFi upgrades at that same rate for the following three years.
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FCC Approves Subsidy Plan to Upgrade School and Library Networks

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  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @01:46PM (#47438839) Journal
    Seriously - why? There are less than 100,000 K-12 schools in the US [edreform.com], we're talking about $10,000 PER SCHOOL in the US, each year. I just upgraded my office (12 Ubiquiti access points, covering 45,000 square feet - probably about the average size of a school campus) to 150 Mbps down/65 Mbps up FiOS for $250 per month. Should cost less than $1000 for the hardware, and less than $3000 per year for the service. Where does the other $6,000 go - for the first year? And what about all the following years?
    • The most expensive part is employing tech staff to connect and troubleshoot everything.
      • by zr (19885)

        wifi setup requires hardly any maintenance. 1-2 headcount per school district at most. chances are they already have admins on staff. a little training is all that might be needed.

        or contract a private shop to maintain wifi infrastructure.

        any way you look at this $$ it can't possibly be justified except that it will be spent lining politicians pockets.

        • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @04:05PM (#47439479)

          wifi setup requires hardly any maintenance. 1-2 headcount per school district at most. chances are they already have admins on staff. a little training is all that might be needed.

          OK, that's cool. so $10k for wifi equipment and $150k for two unionized benefits jobs to maintain it, annually. that equipment is a rip off!

        • Each school building needs multiple access points. On a network of such high node density (ie, thirty laptops in one room) you can't just stick bog-standard APs up - you need a managed wireless solution capable of dynamically adjusting freqency allocation according to demand and load-balancing access points. That means high-end APs, an expensive controller, possible upgrades to the wired network to handle it. You'll also need one high-skill administrator per district, and one low-skill technician per school

          • by zr (19885)

            so a school with 30 laptops per class doesnt have the funding to buy a $400 router per class? so we have to throw $10k/year at them just to avoid engaging common sense?

            we're already outspending nearly every western nation, how's that working out?

            all i'm saying is lets _think_ before we spend.

            its telling that this idea gets flagged as flame bait and troll..

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          nobody employed at a K-12 school has the ability or IQ to properly run and terminate cat6/fiber/etc let alone install a clean network rack.

          Ever single school my company is called in to fix was an utter nightmare that had to have most of the infrastructure gutted. Idiots just running non plenum wire in the ceiling ducts, etc...

          If you want it half assed, let the school do it. If you want ti right, hire a real company of professionals to come in and install it right so it has a chance to survive the school

    • not all of us are in Fios land others need to pay the costs of running firer to there site.

    • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @04:38PM (#47439633) Homepage Journal

      Seriously - why? ... Where does the other $6,000 go - for the first year?

      It goes to the equipment the NSA needs to collect all the data, connect it with the students and their parents and their home computers, and record and store all the communication that happens. Duh.

      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        Google does that for them for free. No, I am not a Google hater. Google collects data. The shitheads tell them to give it up or enjoy being fucked over.

    • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium.yahoo@com> on Saturday July 12, 2014 @06:47PM (#47440245)

      Content filtering is mandatory in K12 schools and can be fairly expensive. Hardware in schools take a beating and need more frequent replacements. If you think network equipment is bulletproof do some work for a school. You can grill food on some of their routers. If it were my decision, there would be 10G network to all public schools and companies would be allowed to bid to be providers using bandwidth branching from those hops. It would push down costs, create an open business model, increase bandwidth to all areas of cities, and move schools closer to were they need to be technologically.

      • by Archfeld (6757) *

        WOW I wish more people thought like you. I volunteer and manage a network and wireless setup for a high-school in my area, the bandwidth is provided free of charge by AT&T, I know it surprised me as well. Kids can and DO break things in ways I never even conceived of before taking on this responsibility. I work as an admin for a very LARGE business and do this professionally and I've never seen the cluster-fsck that 2 dozen high school kids can make of a network in 10 minutes without even really trying.

        • by mpe (36238)
          I work as an admin for a very LARGE business and do this professionally and I've never seen the cluster-fsck that 2 dozen high school kids can make of a network in 10 minutes without even really trying. Hardware and software companies need to get these kids to be beta testers.

          It would be a mistake to assume that the most destructive users in a school environment are the students though.
          • by Archfeld (6757) *

            Do you have experience that points to other sources ? I've done this for several years now and I've yet to have to work a teachers or admins workstation for anything but a part failure, while I spend more time cleaning up student workstations and shared library stations with the software filter and the tampering students...

            NOTE : quite often I learn NEW and interesting things fixing stuff after the kids are done, things I never would have considered or thought of trying :)

    • by mpe (36238)
      Seriously - why? There are less than 100,000 K-12 schools in the US, we're talking about $10,000 PER SCHOOL in the US, each year.

      Probably considerably less than that once you account for all the costs associated with awarding contracts. Including "bidding" and multi layer sub contracting. Even if the whole thing is free from any kind of bribary.

      I just upgraded my office (12 Ubiquiti access points, covering 45,000 square feet - probably about the average size of a school campus)

      Area is rather less mean
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      You volunteering to install all of it for free?

  • by zr (19885)

    i wonder how many politicians and union hacks will get funded by this money?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unions are the reason your happy ass has any kind of protection at work. Strong unions mean a strong America and there is a direct relationship between our dwindling middle class and the leaching of union power.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by zr (19885)

        i'm not in a union and have no interest in joining, my job is fine. i was never unemployed for more than 2 months (following my arrival here, i couldn't speak english then).

        more over i emigrated a country that was TOTALLY unionized. the only thing protected was mediocre performance and pay.

        so with all due respect, tell your happy union stories to someone who doesnt know what a union is.

        unions are the reason i can't find a decent school for my son and there is a lottery to get into a union-free charter schoo

      • Unions are the reason your happy ass has any kind of protection at work. Strong unions mean a strong America and there is a direct relationship between our dwindling middle class and the leaching of union power.

        Jimmy Hoffa? Is that you?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Your funding costs are a bit off there first poster.

    The schools I have been in have the following costs to set up a functioning network that can be managed down to a student level.

    Cisco 4400 Wlan controller with 50 ap license $7200 (amazon) (no longer produced but functional for a school)
    Cisco 1252 aironet ap $300 ea x 50 = $15,000 (amazon)
    Cisco POE switch to power all the AP's SG200-50p poe smart switch $800 (amazon)
    Cabling installed by contractor 12,000 feet (based on my own install at the last school I

    • Why not use the already installed electrical wiring? Not that every room needs internet connection anyway. Or does the taxpayer really need to make sure little Johnny and Susie can check their social media while in class?

  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @02:11PM (#47438965) Homepage Journal

    So many schools, librarys and entire towns have no Internet access here in Rural Washington. The rich suburbs down the road near the lakes do, but not the inner city (very small city) does. My mothers town everyone is on dialup. They did start beaming in microwave to the town library and enable wifi. So People drive in and sit in the cars to get online, crazy. Funny thing, she use to get a flickering of 4G Verizon, but verizon shared the tower with the microwave isp, so company made a decision to cut Verizon's data to feed more bandwidth to the library. Now everyone is stuck on dialup. This is about 50 miles north of Spokane, WA.

    This is crazy as everyone has underground power and telephone lines, but no internet. The power company put everything underground to save money from falling trees every year, and that had to be expensive as hell.

    • So many schools, librarys and entire towns have no Internet access here in Rural Washington.

      I think what you may mean is many rural Washington towns have no cable or DSL. If you have a phone line, dial-up is still (yes) available, and both Hughes and Dish offer down and up link to the Intertubes. Expensive, yes, but if there is a cell tower nearby... there is Internet.

  • Almost like this plan [slashdot.org] except now with more bacony goodness!

    Dupe.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why does the Federal government have to butt it's fat ass into EVERY FUCKIN' THING IN THE COUNTRY. What the hell.

    If there was CLEARLY something that was a local issue, it's school WiFi.

    And we wonder why the Feds have run up an EIGHTEEN GAZILLLION FUCKIN DOLLAR debt.

    Fuckin assholes. Makes me want to build a compound and heavily arm myself and shit.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Because people are too fucking stupid to do it on their own. Maybe if we require IQ above what degree they paid for this problem would not manifest as much.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It seems like a waste of money that i do not want my tax dollars going towards.

  • Last to learn (Score:2, Informative)

    by jamesl (106902)

    What does McDonalds have that our schools don't have?

    1. Affordable food that students will eat.
    2. Free WiFi.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      I was going to add 3- A Clown, But then I remembered the Principal from my daughters public school...

  • Federal agencies should regulate.
    Congress should subsidize.

    • So, you are not from the USA. While the US Congress directly accepts bribes, it usually doesn't directly disperse the associated thank you dollars back to the corporations.

      In this case, thank-yous were paid by stuffing the FCC with lawyers working for Comcast and Verizon (currently on 'accrued salary, bonus and commission deferred until 2017' status).

      It is these experts in Telecommunications Law (that could not explain the difference between RJ11 and an Internet Tube) who will determine that all school
  • I'm confused why the FCC and the administration are looking for wifi specifically in schools. If students are going to be rough on whatever technology equipment you have, you should be getting them PCs, which are easier to repair than tablets. PCs are also suitable for some kinds of work that tablets simply aren't, notably the computer science classes that are all the rage right now. If you're getting PCs for classrooms, it makes more sense to wire them into the network directly. It's cheaper, it enables mo

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