Leveraging price transparency to bring affordable bandwidth to 6 million students
6 MILLION STUDENTS could be connected by ensuring their districts get the same bandwidth pricing as peer districts in their states.
A peer district is one of similar locale and district size within a state. To analyze the potential of price transparency to connect the last 6.5 million students, we examined the current budget of each schools district not meeting the minimum connectivity goal and looked to see if any of its peer districts were purchasing Internet access at prices that could meet that goal within the district’s current budget. In this report, we refer to these as “peer deals.”
94% of the districts (representing 6 million students) not meeting the 100 kbps per student Internet access goal could meet or exceed it within their current budget by gaining access to a peer deal. On average
we found 62 peer deals for each district. 58% of districts not meeting the minimum goal had one or more peer deals available from their current service provider. That means that 2.6 million students could be connected to the bandwidth they need without their districts having to switch service providers — the quickest path to digital equity.
In order to meet the minimum bandwidth goal by leveraging price transparency, the average district needs to lower its cost per Mbps by 26%. This is well within the realm of possibility because districts that upgraded in 2017 saw their costs decline 34% while the cost of K-12 broadband declined 30% overall. Moreover, nearly 90% of the 6 million students who can be upgraded simply by obtaining peer deals are in urban and Suburban districts with access to highly competitive broadband markets, increasing the likelihood that peer deals will be available.
Connecting school districts to service providers that meet national benchmark prices
100,000 STUDENTS in school districts that cannot meet the minimum connectivity goal through peer pricing could be connected to sufficient bandwidth if their districts bought Internet services at national benchmark prices. In 2017, we saw continued progress
in this regard, with 60% of districts nationwide now meeting affordability targets for Internet access.
To reach benchmark prices, these districts would have to lower their cost per Mbps by 12%, significantly less than the average decrease in cost per Mbps achieved by districts that upgraded in 2017.
Increasing school district investment to levels comparable to peers’
400,000 STUDENTS in school districts that cannot meet the minimum connectivity goal through peer pricing or benchmark pricing could be connected to sufficient bandwidth if their districts increased their broadband budgets.
In 2016, approximately 5% of school districts could have provided their students with sufficient Internet access by investing more in broadband. A year later, fewer than 1% of districts (representing 400,000 students) need to increase their broadband budgets to
bring equal digital access to their students.
These districts spend 90% less per student on Internet access than the average district that does meet the minimum connectivity goal spends per student. This is despite having slightly fewer financial constraints than their well-connected peers.3 To meet the minimum connectivity goal these districts need to invest an average of an additional $1.07 per student per year.