Arkansas is leading the nation in classroom high-speed Internet access according to a recently published study.
According to the 2018 State of States report, published by EducationSuperHighway, Arkansas has the highest percentage of school districts that provide at least 1 Megabit (Mbps) per student of Internet access. Throughout Arkansas, 98 percent of school districts are providing at least 1 Megabit worth of bandwidth per student.
The study credits Gov. Asa Hutchinson for revamping the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN), which had reportedly become outdated by 2014 and provided only 5 kpbs of Internet connectivity per student. Hutchinson assumed office in 2015 and committed the state Department of Information Services and Department of Education to upgrade and update the computer network.
Currently, the Federal Communication Commission has a goal of providing every student in America with at least 1 Mbps of Internet access. However, when Hutchinson was overseeing the revamp of APSCN, the FCC had a short-term goal of 100 kpbs per student. State officials decided to exceed the short term goal to provide more bandwidth per student.
Once the APSCN was revamped, all of the outdated copper connections that powered the network were replaced with fiber connections.
Placing high-speed Internet in classrooms has been both a state and national goal in recent years. To date, over 40 million students have high-speed Internet in their classrooms across the national.
According to the study, 98 percent of public schools have “next-generation fiber infrastructure,” while 96 percent of schools have Internet connectivity that enables digital learning. That is equivalent to approximately 81,000 schools.