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Do Government-Owned Networks Save Schools Money?

January 7, 2015

mom and girl 2Can schools and other publicly-run institutions save precious dollars by subscribing to a government-owned broadband service provider versus a privately-owned one? Unsurprisingly, supporters of government-owned networks (GONs) almost always answer that question in the affirmative.

However, a new report from CT&T of North Little Rock, a telecommunications consulting firm, suggests that answer is wrong.

According to Arkansas News, the CT&T report says the Razorback state could save more than $8.5 million if its public elementary and secondary schools “obtained Internet service solely from private providers and disconnected from the state-run APSCN [Arkansas Public School Computer Network] network.” (The state Department of Information Systems runs APSCN.) The News says the CT&T report’s findings are in line with an earlier report from EducationSuperHighway that concluded “there are more cost-effective options than connecting K-12 schools to ARE-ON.”

The new report also seems to indicate state public schools are paying more money even while they are getting substandard service. The CT&T report said the state-run network “uses outdated technology and provides only a tiny fraction of the bandwidth that private providers can provide.” In fact, that’s why most schools have already abandoned the state network and are getting their broadband from private providers – a fact that makes the state GON “largely redundant.”

CT&T Senior Project Manager Jody Craft also recommended state lawmakers oppose efforts to allow state elementary and secondary schools to connect to a different state network that serves colleges and universities. Craft said that alternative wouldn’t address K-12 schools’ broadband needs and would simply add “a cost component that we feel is unjustified.”