Better Connections: Arkansas Rebuilds its Plodding K-12 Network into a Robust Broadband Service

Mark Myers remembers his very first day on the job in January 2015 as the state of Arkansas’ CIO and director of the Department of Information Systems (DIS). “I was with Gov. [Asa] Hutchinson in the mansion, and he said, ‘Hey, Mark, you have got to get this K-12 broadband thing fixed,’” he recalled. Myers admits that at the time he knew very little about the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN), which provides connectivity to all of the state’s K-12 classrooms. He did some research and found that APSCN was averaging a pokey 5 kilobits per second (Kbps) per user. In contrast, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set a K-12 Internet access target of 100 Kbps per student.

In 2014, the FCC made resources available to close the connectivity gap across the country by increasing its investment in K-12 broadband by $2.5 billion per year to a total of $3.9 billion annually. This should be sufficient funding to connect every public school classroom in America to high-speed broadband. With a goal of increasing the number of state school districts meeting the FCC Internet access target of 100 Kbps per student to 100 percent, Hutchinson directed DIS to upgrade APSCN to an all-fiber network.


Better Connections: Arkansas Rebuilds its Plodding K-12 Network into a Robust Broadband Service