With the E-rate season winding down, many schools are facing the question of how to take advantage of some of the new E-rate rules and eligible services.

Last year, for the first time, schools were able to fund managed Wi-Fi and switching services through E-rate. This presented a new opportunity for resources-strapped school districts, which lack the necessary staff to manage the growing mobile device population on their network. For other districts, it makes better sense to keep all IT management in-house, given their expertise or systems they have in place to handle network burdens.

Last week, ADTRAN hosted a webinar with District Administration magazine to tackle this topic and looked into the top five considerations (Cost, Security, Installation, Firmware Upgrades and Control) for a school district when outsourcing their network. Representatives from two progressive school systems, Hamilton Heights School District in Indiana and Calhoun County School District in Alabama, shared their thoughts on why they took different paths when it came to managing their network.

In a very interactive and engaging discussion, the webinar dives into these issues and looks at real-world examples from school districts who are grappling with the complexities of today’s network technologies. The panelists debated questions such as:

  • How do I keep up with CIPA compliance?
  • How do districts handle the bandwidth demands of applications such as YouTube and Facebook accessed by students?
  • What is the role of proactive monitoring to ensure a fully functioning network?
  • How do you set filters for BYOD devices that go off campus?
  • As highlighted by the district leaders, critical to all of these questions is making sure the district also has the flexibility to go from an outsourced model to bringing management back in-house – especially important, knowing that E-rate funding has no guarantee year after year. Also, most school districts do not want to get locked into a long term subscription model.

    Ultimately, school districts need to be able to keep up with the latest technology, whether it is 802.11ac Wi-Fi or the providing the necessary bandwidth to meet multimedia curriculum. Choosing the right deployment path is a first step to ensuring the learning environment is optimized for students.

    To hear more of the discussion, visit District Administrator for an archived copy of the webinar.

    Jason King is the director of marketing for the ProCloud Managed Services Group at ADTRAN. With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, he is responsible for the overall promotion and positioning of the company’s cloud-managed networking solutions. Find him on Twitter @jjking24