Broadband strategy for school boards

August 09, 2017

Broadband connectivity has become a critical component of our modern communications infrastructure. In almost every sphere of human activity, a fast internet connection makes the world move. Without broadband, communities risk falling behind in the competition to attract businesses and residents.

The responsibility for school boards is significant, as the lack of broadband infrastructure may create service delivery gaps in the evolution of education and learning, including e-learning and cloud-based learning. Communities and their local school boards must recognize that equitable access to broadband is the right of every parent, student and teacher.

As the Ministry of Education is requiring school boards to deliver more connectivity to students, school boards have an opportunity to modernize how federal and municipal funding is allocated and used at the school board and school levels. An alignment of funding to strategic investments and activities on the ground will help school boards reach their goals to support student achievement.

Consequently, broadband and connectivity should be promoted so that it strengthens its reach across all areas of the province, especially remote and rural areas. This is achieved through more robust broadband infrastructure.

Download our broadband position paper

Developing an impactful message within your communities

Our school boards are responsible for making local decisions about designing and equipping schools to meet the needs of the students and staff. This includes communications technology such as broadband, as well as computers and other hardware necessary for day-to-day schooling activities. Today's school boards are looking at emerging trends such as cloud-based learning environments and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, hoping to find efficiencies in learning and help students and teachers adapt to ongoing changes in student development and classroom evolution. This development, however, depends on broadband internet access.

To improve access to broadband across Ontario, especially in remote or rural areas, the local school boards should lobby the provincial government, local government, as well as neighbouring communities. These joint efforts can achieve less costly and more efficient strategies to bring broadband to your communities. Broadband is more than just a school board concern and should incorporate communities, health care, businesses and other users.

In order to improve broadband infrastructure and access in communities, a clear roadmap is needed. BDO can help your local school boards lobby and promote a clear and defined broadband strategy based on market-tested approaches, customized to your unique circumstances and requirements. More importantly, BDO can aid school boards in building a business case to support the needed up-front investments in broadband technologies so that schools and administration offices can take full advantage of digital opportunities and funding available by the government.

The following strategies could be deployed to advocate the benefits of broadband infrastructure for school boards in your communities:

  • Educate the school boards on which key considerations they need to make before investing their capital in broadband for their schools;
  • Assist school boards in connecting their schools to broadband and getting the best value for their investment;
  • Assist in the development of coordinated and large-scale efforts with neighbouring communities and school boards to share costs and increase bargaining power for the adoption of new technologies;
  • Help school boards meet the expectations of the Ministry of Education and the mandate to achieve 1.0 Gbps at every establishment;
  • Guide school boards in making sure they have Open Access requirements clearly identified in their broadband strategy;
  • Identify the various funding options available to school boards and local communities;
  • Assist school boards assemble all relevant information and data required for funding applications;
  • Direct school boards with the Request for Information and Request for Proposal phases, including the procurement strategy and vendor selection process, to ensure fair and equitable contracting practices that promote the long-term benefits and interests of the school boards;
  • Guide school boards on the strategy employed by service providers to upgrade local infrastructure when connecting sites and the ownership principle behind those assets to promote Open Access;
  • Assist school boards with their broadband strategy to ensure that any investment made by the board or the Ministry of Education is protected.

How can BDO help?

BDO, in collaboration with Campbell Patterson Communications (CPC), is uniquely positioned to work with school boards and local communities in advocating for broadband solutions which are backed by Intelligent Community Plans and innovative Broadband Strategies.

We have extensive experience creating strategies, assessments, feasibility studies, network designs, business cases, asset valuations, financial models, benchmarking exercises and organizational designs for a variety of clients ranging from provincial governments to school boards. BDO and CPC are currently project-managing the network deployments and day-to-day operations in a range of cities and regions across Ontario, so we know first-hand how to translate well-crafted plans into strong results. If you have any questions about broadband and how we can help, please contact us today.

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