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Fast Internet Plays a HUGE Role in Education

Do you know what kind of internet your kiddo’s school or local library has? Many rural or low-income schools and libraries in South Central Texas have wireless internet that doesn’t perform well with multiple users, thereby limiting the learning possibilities for students. There are even schools who still have dial-up internet, the slowest technology available!

As a Fiber Internet service provider offering the fastest, most reliable technology on the market, can help local schools and libraries determine the most cost-effective options for connectivity that could make a significant difference in the bidding process, budget and the end product.

At GVEC, we feel it is important that the schools and libraries in our community have the resources they need to help guide their way to success. This is why we have chosen to utilize the federal E-rate program, a government program that recognizes the value of making innovative digital technologies and 24/7 learning available in rural communities. Our most recent E-rate project brought Fiber to Stockdale ISD, increasing the bandwidth from 45 megabits per second (Mbps) to 500 Mbps. Talk about an upgrade! That would be like trading in a minivan for a sports car.

What is E-rate?

Is the E-rate program something that can benefit your kid’s school or local library? To help determine whether it could help your school, here is a clearer explanation of what E-rate really is: E-rate is a federal program that provides eligible schools and libraries in rural or low-income areas with fiber internet connectivity at a discounted rate. With funding from the Universal Service Fund, the Federal Communications Commissions’ (FCC) E-rate program makes telecommunications and information services more affordable.

GVEC’s Takes E-rate for a SPIN

In 2007, GVEC received a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) that allows us to provide fiber internet services to local schools and libraries, and started answering school requests in 2016. We were awarded our first E-rate project for Stockdale ISD last year in 2017, and once the project was funded and construction was complete, the school district was officially live with Fiber at the end of May of 2018. Throughout the process, GVEC was able to provide interim internet service to Stockdale ISD, preventing any downtime for the district.

According to Stockdale ISD Technology Director Billy Polasek, DS3 (Stockdale’s last internet technology), forced a cap on the number of students who could participate in online, state-mandated testing at once. Standardized testing had to be completed one group at a time per school. Otherwise, questions and videos were slow to load—if they loaded at all. GVEC’s new Fiber Internet allows Stockdale schools to test students all at once instead of scheduling time in the library for each individual group.

“Students, teachers and staff have all noticed the difference. There is so much more we can do now in terms of student management systems and standardized testing across the district.” – Stockdale ISD Superintendent, Daniel Fuller

The Benefits of E-rate Seen by Stockdale ISD

The benefits to E-rate are limitless. Here’s just a few of the many:

  • Stable internet service at a price point that benefits the district
  • No buffering/easy streaming
  • Fast fiber internet

“With the old system, we had to block certain aspects of YouTube and almost any other streaming site. We don’t have to worry about that now. There’s no more buffering, which really hindered the educational process in our classrooms.” -Stockdale ISD Technology Director, Billy Polasek.

Real-life E-rate Savings

Due to Stockdale’s discount rate, E-rate initially covered 80 percent of eligible upgrade costs. When Texas added 10 percent in state-matching funds, E-rate added 10 more percent. The district’s final tab, including costs not eligible for aid was $40,000 of the $360,000 total. Talk about a deal!

(Note: State E-rate funding is subject to change from year to year.)

E-rate Resources

Now that you’ve heard the spiel about E-rate, is it something that could benefit your local school or library? GVEC is delighted by every opportunity to serve our communities with the latest fiber internet—the world’s fastest internet technology. If this is something you think could benefit your community, call 800.699.4832 to speak with Ceason Barnick, GVEC Senior Executive and community liaison for GVEC’s E-rate projects. Or visit our website to request help navigating the E-rate program.

To learn more about the benefits of E-rate visit the FCC website!

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