Metro Communications is now serving the Jacksonville, IL school district with a fiber-optic network connection. Metro is providing 5Gbps of bandwidth to support the needs of students and teachers within the Jacksonville school district. We talked with Bill Poole, the Director of Technology and Library Services for the Jacksonville School District about the new connection, their plans for the bandwidth and the challenges faced with obtaining a fiber-optic connection.
Jacksonville Schools Now Operating On A
Metro Communications: What are some of the challenges you faced when searching for a company that could provide a fiber-optic connection?
Bill: “I feel one of the challenges is getting competitive bids, 2 out of 3 were outside companies seeking to get a market foothold in the area. I think a second challenge would be that very few vendors we have spoken to in the past have been willing and/or unable to provide service to all of our entities”
Fiber-optic network is still working its way into rural areas, there is simply not enough fiber-optic network in rural areas to support local rural enterprise business and other enterprise services. As technology advances in the classroom the need for high speed broadband in educational institutions will increase. This creates a problem for some educational facilities, bandwidth is important as students and teachers lesson plans become increasingly connected by new technologies.
Metro Communications: What kind of Technologies are being put in place that require more bandwidth within educational institutions?
Bill: “I feel distance learning will be the next horizon to explore with the increase in bandwidth. Some staff have used Hangout sessions or Skype sessions to bring in experts into their classroom. The ability to do more of this type of instruction is something teachers/staff can use for instruction as well as PLN growth and development on a personal level. The expanded bandwidth allows us to look beyond the limited use we have had in the past.”
If there are other rural educational facilities in Illinois interested in service here are a few suggestions.
Metro Communications: What steps should schools take if they are interested in Fiber-Optic services?
Bill: “I think my first suggestion would be to contact the Education Superhighway. They provided excellent support in making this happen. Without their guidance, the district could have been easily been left on the outside looking in and still using our old cable modem and DSL connections. I also feel it was an advantage to have had Mindy Fiscus of the Learning Technology Center of Illinois working directly with us on this project. When we first thought of expanding our fiber connections it was Mindy who brought to our attention a competitive state grant to help support the cost of the envisioned project. Her expertise and willingness to help was invaluable. I would whole heartedly contact her if you decide to go the RFP route and need verbiage for the proposal.”