Arizona’s vision is for schools statewide to have scalable, affordable and reliable Internet access. With access to high-speed broadband, students can take remote classes and receive digital learning opportunities that they never knew existed. Educators will be able to dramatically enhance their professional development capabilities and communities will be transformed by the cultural and economic benefits of simply being connected to the Internet.
What is Broadband you ask? The FCC defines "Broadband" as "An internet service that must deliver at least 25 Mbps download speed and at least 3 Mbps upload". In today's world, this performance is completely unacceptable for anything above basic texting and small emails. In Arizona, we work to bring a minimum of 1.5 Mbps up / down per student to enable learning at the highest level possible. (http://www.broadband4arizona.com/broadband-target.html)
Building infrastructure and encouraging vendors to move into new areas of the state, creates competition. Competition creates higher levels of service and lower prices! You can track our progress here.
The Need for Broadband
According to the 2019 States of the States Report, 96% of Arizona students now meet the original 100 KBPS goal for broadband access. However, the national benchmark for student is now 2 MBPS. Furthermore, many schools in the state’s most rural areas cannot access internet that is fast enough to support digital learning and many other technological opportunities for students that are commonplace within urban centers.
Watch this video from the Arizona Corporation Commission to learn more about the Arizona Broadband Initiative.
In addition to those untapped student resources, Arizona has created and made available a bevy of free or inexpensive online tools for teachers. These tools can be used for classroom instruction, as well as for professional development, and are not currently being utilized in many underserved areas across the state. Frequently, service providers struggle to make a high enough return on investment to dedicate resources and build infrastructure out to the most remote schools.
Arizona’s vision is for schools statewide to have scalable, affordable and reliable internet access. With access to high-speed broadband, students can take remote classes and receive digital learning opportunities that they never knew existed. Educators will be able to dramatically enhance their professional development capabilities and communities will be transformed by the cultural and economic benefits of simply being connected to the Internet.
As part of the Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative, ADE will be working with Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) to make the most of the E-Rate dollars available to them. E-Rate is the commonly used name for the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The program provides discounts to assist U.S. schools and libraries in their efforts to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. The USAC fee, found within the line items of an ordinary phone bill, is how E-Rate funds are collected on a monthly basis.
The E-Rate program in Arizona has assisted more than 4 million students, improved the infrastructure of 2,229 buildings and benefitted 1,200 schools. The state has improved from procuring just 33 percent of its requested E-Rate funds in 2008 to obtaining roughly 90 percent of its funding requests now, allowing technology to reach more Arizona students than ever before.
Today, with the Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative receiving assistance from the nonprofit organization EducationSuperHighway (ESH), there is no better time for an LEA in Arizona to dramatically increase its infrastructure and receive Internet build-outs at potentially no cost.
With a 10 percent Arizona state match, E-Rate will provide an additional 10 percent for infrastructure build-outs. For example, if a school has an NSLP percentage of 80, instead of the school attempting to raise the remaining 20 percent of funds, the state match will fund 10 percent and E-Rate will then cover the final 10 percent
Affordable Connectivity Program
K12 SCHOOLS CAN HELP FAMILIES QUALIFY FOR REDUCED INTERNET COSTS, DEVICES AND MORE:
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a U.S. government program run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices like a laptop or tablet.
Recently the Biden Administration made a deal with internet providers to ensure internet services provided to low-income families starting at $30 a month is high-speed internet and not the slowest speed offered by the provider.
Eligible households could receive:
Up to a $30/month discount on internet service
Up to a $75/month discount if household is on qualifying Tribal lands
A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
A low cost service plan that may be fully covered through the ACP*
Schools can help qualify families for the $30 a month Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) via the free and reduced lunch program. Both Common Sense Media and Education Superhighway have created great toolkits and collections of resources for school and parents. To find out more information on this program click the button below.
In December 2014, The FCC released an order modernizing the Erate Program (https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-releases-order-modernizing-e-rate-21st-century-connectivity). This order gave states to opportunity to create a state match fund of up to 10% and in doing so, receive an additional 10% in Federal Erate funding for “Special Construction”. Special construction projects provide high speed internet to schools and libraries that have historically never been able to afford the connectivity. By working with the Arizona Corporation Commission and the Governors Office, ADE created the “Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative” to address these needs.
With a 10-1 return on investment, this is an ideal way to fund such an important initiative and finally provide students in rural Arizona access to the same tools as their peers in metro areas.
470 Posting with RFP for Telecommunications Services posted by 1-1-2021
Wait a minimum of 28 days from posting your Form 470 to begin evaluating bids to allow time for all bidders to respond, then select the solution that fits your needs with overall cost being the heaviest weighted factor (execution of contract should be contingent upon funding approval).
Review bids and make award with a condition on your contract that you must receive E-Rate Funding for contract to be valid.
In this workshop, Arizona LEAs will be trained in the foundations of student data privacy and accessibility and how to utilize a rubric to vet applications. Other criteria for vetting applications will be incorporated into the training including the following: interoperability with existing applications, teacher and student ease of use, and instructional relevance and purpose. Using the TrustEd Apps Management Suite (TAMS) from 1EdTech, the Arizona LEAs will collaborate on the best practices for sharing the use of digital learning tools and resources with other educators in their schools and districts and will learn strategies for providing professional development in digital learning for their colleagues.