Women In Government: Connectivity, Cybersecurity and COVID-19 in K-12 Education
FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel
Rhode Island State Representative Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, WIG State Director
Christine Fox, Senior Director of External Affairs, Consortium for School Networking
The COVID-19 pandemic and re-entry process raises many issues for K-12 schools, including broadband/internet access, the homework gap, data cybersecurity and states’ role in supporting schools.
RESOURCES - FCC
FCC - Emergency Broadband Benefit Outreach Toolkit (https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-outreach-toolkit)
CoSN’s FCC Filing on cybersecurity https://www.cosn.org/sites/default/files/E-rate%20Cybersecurity%20Filing%202.8.21_compressed.pdf
CoSN’s Home Connectivity Broadband Benchmarks
CoSN will publish the complete results of the home connectivity benchmarks study in May 2021 but preliminary findings have been released.
The findings show that video accounts for most network demand associated with remote learning and that outdated and under-powered Wi-Fi and devices negatively impact the student experience.
The CoSN study shows that:
Video consumes the vast majority of network traffic and therefore upload speed is
vitally important. Network log data shows that video (synchronous and asynchronous)
accounts for 85% of network traffic for remote learning. (See Attachment B). Educators
are also adopting video intensive applications both for direct instruction and instructional
supports. These applications use a significant amount of data and are often run concurrent
with the synchronous video classroom sessions. However, video is used for more than
direct instruction. Students use video to interact with each other, to engage educators, and
to submit homework. Educators also often ask or require students to leave cameras on to
monitor and support student engagement and participation.
o Most students connect to the internet at home via outdated home wi-fi. Data
compiled for the CoSN study by online meeting software shows that approximately 92%
of students connect to remote learning using Wi-Fi rather than through wired
connections. Many users believe they have slow internet connection, but in some cases
the real problem is slow Wi-Fi delivered through routers using outdated wireless
standards. Wi-Fi standards have changed significantly over the last 10 years, yet many
household routers may have not been updated to reflect these changes.
o A student’s remote learning experience is significantly impacted by device quality.
Upload and download kbps vary significantly by device type. Device age and type
significantly impact the student experience. Students that were provided with older and
less powerful equipment did not have the same experience as students with newer
devices. Students that received newer devices with limited specifications (memory and
processor) also did not have the same experience as students that were provided with
devices with better specifications. The actual causes of poor performance are most likely
● Type and speed of processor
● Amount of memory
● CPU utilization
● Number of applications running at one time
● Quality of Wi-Fi Antenna and signal strength received
● Wi-Fi standard used and access frequency
o There are multiple students in most student households. The study shows that 70% of
students live in a household with one or more other students. Concurrently supporting
multiple students from the same internet connection requires increased bandwidth for
each student added to the home network. For this reason, it is essential that the
Commission adopt a per student, not per household, bandwidth recommendation.
o Students often access learning resources from locations other than home. Many
students participated in school activities from locations outside of the home. It was also
common to observe students access the internet from multiple locations during the six week
period of the study. In addition, many children come from split family environments and thus live in multiple households or learning settings.
o Many students used their phone or tablet in addition to their computers to
participate in online meetings. Even though many students in the study had a district
assigned device and access to home internet, many used their phone or tablet along with
their district assigned device to participate in online meetings. These additional devices
contribute to increased home bandwidth requirements.
Remote and rural areas do not have the internet speeds of urban areas. Generally,
data showed that most cities and suburban areas where students lived had high speed
internet available (FCC Form 407 data) and deployed (Speed Test Data). However,
students living in more rural areas or on the edges of suburban areas had more limited
internet access. Likewise, users within certain areas of a city also experienced limited
internet speeds. This condition may be attributed to capacity issues on the part of ISPs
brought about by oversubscribing or capacity issues related to overloaded network