Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

FCC Approves Plan To Spend $5B Over Next Five Years On School Wi-Fi

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the all-about-the-wireless-benjamins dept.

Wireless Networking 54

itwbennett writes: The Federal Communications Commission, in a 3-2 party-line vote Friday, approved a plan to revamp the 17-year-old E-Rate program, which pays for telecom services for schools and libraries, by phasing out funding for voice service, Web hosting and paging services, and redirecting money to Wi-Fi. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had proposed a $5 billion budget for Wi-Fi, but Republican commissioners and some lawmakers had questioned where the money would come from. Still, the E-Rate revamp (PDF) approved Friday contemplates a $1 billion-a-year target for Wi-Fi projects "year after year," Wheeler said.

cancel ×

54 comments

How about 5BN... (4, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about two weeks ago | (#47434431)

How about 5BN to turn off WiFi at schools, make kids and teachers alike actually log off Facebook for the two or three actual hours of education they get a day?

Re:How about 5BN... (4, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about two weeks ago | (#47434473)

But... how will the kiddies learn about one-click buying?

Re: How about 5BN... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435011)

But they will learn about cancer treatments, with all that WiFi radiation.

How about 5BN... (2)

Trillan (597339) | about two weeks ago | (#47434625)

Facebook can be pretty easily blocked at the router level. On the other hand, there's a variety of lesson plans and administrative tools used in education that can benefit from better connectivity.

Re:How about 5BN... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about two weeks ago | (#47434631)

On the other hand, there's a variety of lesson plans and administrative tools used in education that can benefit from better connectivity.

Such as?

Re:How about 5BN... (2)

RingDev (879105) | about two weeks ago | (#47434657)

How to circumvent router level blocking of Facebook?

-Rick

Re:How about 5BN... (1)

Trillan (597339) | about two weeks ago | (#47436069)

Attendance and evaluation are done directly into the SIS in most cases now. The biggest systems are web only, in fact. Many schools are tracking attendance by the minute to maximize their funding. Data is available to principals via their browser (or pushed in some cases) so they're aware of what's going on in their schools. Tracking of performance can be done across skills now, giving a much better picture of what the student needs help in rather than just "C-."

I'll admit I don't work on the lesson plans much, though I'm certainly aware a lot is going on.

This isn't 1952. Technology can help.

Re:How about 5BN... (1)

augahyde (1016980) | about two weeks ago | (#47442903)

For enhancing basic education, schools frequently use sites such as edmodo.com, quizlet.com, studyisland.com, brainpop.com, and others. Schools can also look to save money on licensing by using sites like Google Docs/Drive, Prezi, and others.

Re:How about 5BN... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about two weeks ago | (#47434661)

I'd like to believe that education benefits from technology - and it might benefit from things like open source ebooks - but making sure the classroom has wireless is a poor substitute for a teacher actually teaching, parents being involved with their kids (not on their own tablets), and kids "bravely" unplugging for a few hours a day to focus on learning.

Schools today babysit students for the state mandatory minimum hours before releasing them to the debt-prison that is college. :/

Yes, I'm jaded. :/

Re:How about 5BN... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434759)

Yes, and I can defeat router, gateway, and firewall/filter level blocking. I am 16, I am self taught to walk right through all of the filters they have tried to use, and the level of cluelessness has left them hamstrung. They have bypass codes for the filters, which the teachers can't remember for more than a few minutes, so sticky notes with these codes spread through the whole school in days. In edition, they allow for root level remote access to any machine, so you can just use one of the machines that have the magic cookies remotely, just lock it out with a maintenance screen.
In addition, smart phone allow tethering, so you can use an unfiltered connection, the TOR browser bundle is really easy to use, and hard resets of the routers aren't that hard to do.

Re:How about 5BN... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435379)

Lots of students make these claims. None of the students at my school have managed, but it is fun to watch them try.

Sounds like some incompetent administration.

This weeks password is... (1)

kuhnto (1904624) | about two weeks ago | (#47435971)

Pencil

Re:How about 5BN... (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about two weeks ago | (#47436149)

so the routers in are a room that is easy to get to and in place where you can go up to one stat messing with it with no one to ask what you are doing?

Re:How about 5BN... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434669)

Then they'd have to spend 50 billion on books, teaching, and actual educational programs.

You think that is going to happen anytime soon?

Re:How about 5BN... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434691)

How about 5BN to turn off WiFi at schools, make kids and teachers alike actually log off Facebook for the two or three actual hours of education they get a day?

Genius; a watchtower for every school yard. They'll be able to sell the idea by saying it's for WiFi.

10 years after the schedule time of completion, the outdated tech will have cost 500 billion; not 5 billion. Since there won't be any accountability, with any luck, it'll intermittently trickle at a maximum of 1gbs per second, up or down. But that's not really what it's all about, is it.

Re:How about 5BN... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47437217)

Ah but does Genny Mccarthy say wifi fries our children's brains?

how 'bout (1)

djupedal (584558) | about two weeks ago | (#47434509)

Cell towers in the middle of every playground for wi-max?

Re:how 'bout (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about two weeks ago | (#47436165)

playground? we had to get rid of recess due to NCLB

Provide money and guidance (4, Insightful)

Dareth (47614) | about two weeks ago | (#47434511)

Provide money and guidance to the local school systems then let them buy the approved technology they need rather than what is dictated to them. Why is WiFi better or more important than web hosting? What if a school already has good WiFi but needs devices to make use of that network? Sounds like the "phasing out" process is more like "last call" at a bar and tells people to get those services from E-Rate now whether they need it or not cause soon the trough will only be feeding you WiFi. Guidance on good economic solutions for school technology needs and funding is what the school systems need. But hey keep on shoveling "one size fits all" technology into the schools. It keeps the vendors happy even if it doesn't help the schools or children all that much.

Re:Provide money and guidance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434549)

Provide money and guidance to the local school systems then let them buy the approved technology they need rather than what is dictated to them.

Because then all the money will go to the assistant principal's brother-in-law.

Re:Provide money and guidance (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about two weeks ago | (#47434655)

Provide money and guidance to the local school systems then let them buy the approved technology they need rather than what is dictated to them.

Because then all the money will go to the assistant principal's brother-in-law.

That's what oversight is supposed to be for... and if wishes were horses...

Re:Provide money and guidance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434659)

... all the money will go to the assistant principal's brother-in-law.

I am not in the education sector but get the impression that some schools spend government money via a 'throw all this cash at the next salesperson to walk in' plan. It's fiscal management somewhere between corporate welfare and the nepotism you suggest.

Re:Provide money and guidance (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about two weeks ago | (#47434731)

let them buy the approved technology they need

What if they don't need any technology, but instead need a new set of monkey bars for the playground?

Re:Provide money and guidance (1)

JasoninKS (1783390) | about two weeks ago | (#47435321)

I preface my answer by saying that I have worked in a K-12 school district as the lone IT guy.

The most honest answer I have (unfortunately) to your question is: "tough sh**". Too often, school funding comes with so many flipping strings attached it's sickening.

i.e. "We can't afford to fix the AC because that budget is dry, but the XYZ funding is overflowing, even though we don't need new XYZ this year. But we're not allowed to move money from the XYZ fund to the maintenance fund due to funding rules. But if we don't spend the XYZ money the state may not even give us that money next year, so we'll blow the money on XYZ anyway because we have little choice"

Re:Provide money and guidance (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about two weeks ago | (#47436219)

Too often, school funding comes with so many flipping strings attached it's sickening.

An obvious solution would be to consolidate all federal education spending in a single department (maybe this would be a good job for The Department of Education). Then all the other departments can go back to doing their jobs. Why the hell is the FCC sticking its nose into school spending? Nonsense like this is why we have a $17 trillion national debt.

Re:Provide money and guidance (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about two weeks ago | (#47435089)

Provide money and guidance to the local school systems then let them buy the approved technology they need rather than what is dictated to them

I've got a different take on the matter. As far as I know, the federal government exerts control over public education by taking money away from the states via taxation, and then only returning it if the states will teach in the manner seen fit by the Dept. of Education.

I.e., they use the ability of the federal government to tax anything and everything to circumvent the limitations on the powers of the federal government.

So in contrast to your solution, I'd suggest the federal government just taxes the states' citizens less, and let the states figure it out if they want to. Problem solved.

Conspiracy theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434519)

I have a feeling that the surge of interest in finally providing Wifi isn't about the data. Who doesn't have mobile data these days? Could it be that the true motive is to have a fine grained network of access points to be able to pinpoint the location of mobile devices?

Wi-FI does not make people smart. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434569)

Just setting up WiFi with no plan will lead to 1) kids hacking it to get on porn sites 2) teachers browsing porn, dating and facebook getting caught and fired 3) kids using the parents credit cards to make in-game purchases.

How about this, Teach kids some basic coding, critical thinking ??

Re:Wi-FI does not make people smart. (1)

Don Faulkner (138856) | about two weeks ago | (#47434673)

But that would turn them into terrorists hackers, and we can't have that.

Who paid for this policy? (3, Interesting)

kalayq (827594) | about two weeks ago | (#47434755)

I think the question is, who will earn a large part of that $1B/year? What "partner" is ready to facilitate this mass wi-fi rollout?

Re:Who paid for this policy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434861)

and what about the hosting services that were paid with this money before? Does this mean that the schools are going to have to find the money in their budgets to pay for their websites or find some other alternatives?

Why is the FCC paying for any of this stuff anyway? The school districts should be deciding what sort of network connectivity the schools should have and determine how to pay for it, not the Feds.

Re:Who paid for this policy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434995)

The schools go through a bidding process, and are able to select their own vendor.

Re:Who paid for this policy? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about two weeks ago | (#47435221)

The same companies that installed closed circuit TV so the kiddies can watch infomercials all day.

Re:Who paid for this policy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435373)

If one wants to find the real story, that pretty much is the first rule of investigating journalists: "Follow the money." However, good luck with finding anyone interested in doing that. People interested in following that ideal about truth and justice are long gone.

Nowadays, writers referring to themselves as this type of journalist are really more interested in "finding the money" for themselves by being marketers writing commercial copy and cheerleading editorials for corporate and cop lobbies.

Most of them fantasize they've successfully bamboozled the public into believing they're aspiring to likes of the muckrakers such as Upton Sinclair, Edward R. Murrow, Rachel Carson or more recently, Ralph Nader, Gary Webb and Woodward/Bernstein. But that's all it is, a fantasy.

They're no different than the government sponsored "correspondent reporters" of the Middle East that the people there mistrust, hate and prefer to see dead with no love lost. Give it time, the subtle version in America will eventually disappear and become obvious as time goes on.

Contracting here I come! (1)

dave562 (969951) | about two weeks ago | (#47434931)

I am tired of solving virtualization challenges and figuring out how manage petabytes of data. I'm going to take the next couple of years off and setup a consulting company installing WAPs in schools. That is obviously where the money is at....

This will be bad for some (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435349)

The school where I work already has a robust WiFi infrastructure. This shift will mean we pay more for our bandwidth as eRate currently covers a percentage of this.

Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435667)

Actually, Wi-Fi is cheaper at delivering Internet access to teacher and lab computers than wired connections. While slower, there is only a need for one PoE port to cover many computers. For schools with older wiring, this is probably a more cost effective methods of providing that access.

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about two weeks ago | (#47436071)

Actually, Wi-Fi is cheaper at delivering Internet access to teacher and lab computers than wired connections. While slower, there is only a need for one PoE port to cover many computers. For schools with older wiring, this is probably a more cost effective methods of providing that access.

It's been true for hotels. Although this at first seems counterintuitive, for awhile, newer hotels, which had been built with Cat 5 to the room, had wired internet but no wireless, while older hotels, who couldn't retrofit wired but *could* put in access points, had wireless but no wired. Now pretty much everyone has wireless. In the near future, you may be able to guess within a few years when a hotel was built by whether or not there's a RJ45 socket in the wall.

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about two weeks ago | (#47437347)

wifi for a large population say 600+ for a high school is going to be far more costly than a structured cabling roll out which is only $25/30$ per port

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

jbengt (874751) | about two weeks ago | (#47437449)

Not if you're installing the wiring in a school built in the 20's with masonry walls, no dropped ceilings, and flat arch clay tile floors.

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about two weeks ago | (#47437829)

Not if you're installing the wiring in a school built in the 20's with masonry walls, no dropped ceilings, and flat arch clay tile floors.

Yes, exactly. Case in point, my daughter's arts and communications school (6 through 12) is a very old grade school (still has steam heat) that was repurposed as a charter school, and to wire the school for internet would require tearing so much down that it would have to be rebuilt anyway.

The thing about wifi is that it can be retrofitted with very little construction. In an older building, this matters.

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about two weeks ago | (#47439701)

well you need to run cables for a large wifi installation - could they not just put trunking along the walls?

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about two weeks ago | (#47439741)

unfortunately you need to run cables to the access points. Wifi for large numbers is not the same as just plonking a single access point next to your phone/cable socket.

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about two weeks ago | (#47442775)

unfortunately you need to run cables to the access points. Wifi for large numbers is not the same as just plonking a single access point next to your phone/cable socket.

It's a matter of numbers. Enterprise grade wifi access points can support up to 200 users. A single hard wired connection is typically single user. (You could expand with switches, but then you've got exposed equipment and wires and are essentially making the teacher act as network administrator.)

With a physical wire difference of 200:1, wiring access points is a lot less intrusive.

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about two weeks ago | (#47444109)

er not what the wireless CCNA says they quote 10 hosts per AP as a rule of thumb for wifi deployments

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about two weeks ago | (#47437849)

wifi for a large population say 600+ for a high school is going to be far more costly than a structured cabling roll out which is only $25/30$ per port

Depends on the building. Consider that many schools were built long before anyone thought you'd need to run wires for some new purpose that nobody had thought of at the time of construction.

Re:Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about two weeks ago | (#47439691)

You still have to run wires for Wi-Fi for poe Ethernet to connect the AP's to the Ethernet network - in the case you cant put the wires in the ceiling or floor the you will have to add trunking. Using trunking might be better less chance of finding asbestos in the roof spaces as a mate of mine found in one of our local schools.

Re: Wi-Fi Is Less Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47438937)

What! I've been doing wiring for over 20 years. The TCO is 10x that. $150 is on the low end per port, and that was 10 yeas ago. Many places pay about $300. $25 will only buy you 50' of cable, at bulk pricing, that's it.

Why is the FCC involved? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about two weeks ago | (#47435729)

Building wide WiFi is not something the FCC really regulates. They put some standards on manufacturers to comply with but beyond that there is no interaction at the user level.

Furthermore, providing wifi is a state or city matter not a federal matter.

IF the FCC wants to help they can break up these monopolies and stop them from engaging in non-competitive behavior.

Otherwise the FCC can just go fuck themselves with a chainsaw.

Re:Why is the FCC involved? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about two weeks ago | (#47435831)

Every bureaucracy tries to expand itself, you know that. Rather than actually get the bandwidth to schools that they need (200Kbps per student or so, ballpark) to support real telelearning, which is hard to do (but arguably within FCC purview), especially given the extensive number of rural schools, they lean towards something easy - buying access points, to hook up to their too-slow Internet link because every agency has to be seen "doing something".

Re:Why is the FCC involved? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about two weeks ago | (#47435859)

which just tells you how poorly the federal government... especially the executive is being run these days...

Re:Why is the FCC involved? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about two weeks ago | (#47436913)

Building wide WiFi is not something the FCC really regulates. They put some standards on manufacturers to comply with but beyond that there is no interaction at the user level.

Because they manage the fees paid for telecommunication services to be provided to areas where it's less profitable but necessary.

The thing is, the Internet is real. And the modern day student NEEDS access to the internet. But an alarming number of them only get access to it via the "free" hotspots at McDonalds and such - and kids needing to do homework, that's an issue. I mean, you'd think they'd go to the library to do their work and use their wifi, but no, they close at 6pm, so they move to the local McD's because they have WiFi for free.

The parents can afford a computer (they're not THAT expensive these days). but can't afford internet access, so instead of kids having to trudge through the city seeking free internet, why not provide funding for schools and libraries to offer it up so kids can use it.

Sure, it works fine in the city, but when you're out in the boonies, well, wifi may be least of a town's concern and the kids just have to find a local hotspot. Having it be their library and school, can only help matters

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47436633)

Yes, get them used to strict internet filters while they are young!

Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a week ago | (#47446663)

... what's wrong with public schools in the US is the lack of wi-fi. Everyone knows that!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...