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The following article was submitted by Brent Norris, Edmonson County School District Network Administrator. Mr. Norris is responsible for all aspects of technology in Edmonson County schools, including fiber optic and copper networks, telephones, wireless communication, and internet filtering, as well as servers and endpoint devices.
by Brent Norris:
I have attended community forums about KY Wired and I have been involved in discussions about internet access inside our county. While they've been really great conversations, there has been not very much data available about how many households in Edmonson county had internet access and what type it was. With the start of school, every student had a registration form where they could provide their current internet information.
I would like to make sure that the community is aware that our community schools have been connected by fiber connections since as early as 2002. By 2005 we had all schools connected with fiber optic cable running at speeds 10x faster than any connection that could be delivered to a household in the county. By 2015 we had upgraded that to 100x faster than any connection to a household in the county. Our link to the internet has always been fast and for several years has been 5x faster than any internet link that could be purchased in the county. It is fast enough that our normal usage runs around half of its total capacity.
The first interesting data from the survey was just how many households with school age children have internet access in some form. Our numbers show that over 82% have some kind of internet access, which is a dramatic increase from five years ago. That still leaves 212 houses that do not have access. One thing we did not ask was why that was. It is possible that these houses do not have options, or just see no need for it.
We can dig deeper into the data and find more information about the makeup of our internet access. Inside the county the majority of internet access is DSL with over 54%. Cable access comes next at around 17% and the rest are less. An interesting number that we saw emerge this year is the “Other” category, which we think to be people with cellular internet. It has seen a sharp increase.
The last two graphs below are for our two different elementary schools. I thought this was interesting because it gave us a chance to see the connection options in both the northern and southern portions of Edmonson County. Once we move into the higher grades, the county population is merged and there is no chance to see differences between the areas.
Both locations are still strong DSL subscribers, but in the southern area of the county, you can see that cable access is much more pronounced than in the northern part. I think this shows how Mediacom hasn’t expanded as much above the river. I was also surprised by the number of satellite users in the southern part of the county. It is also interesting to me that the increase in cable and Satellite doesn’t seem to change the “None” percentages. They seem to exclusively be taking over DSL subscribers. This means that cable and satellite aren’t bringing in new customers they are most likely taking dissatisfied customers from DSL.
Cellular access seems to stay consistent across the two regions though. I will be interested to see if as the years progress (and we update our form to include a line for cellular) if the percentage of access through the cell networks increase and takes over some of the other choices. The cellular option doesn’t require infrastructure to the house and therefore might be more cost effective to deploy to homes in a county that is spread out like ours.
The bottom line is this: several people have voiced their concerns as to why the KyWired project is crucial to our school system, when in fact, it will have very little or nothing to do with it at all. While the project will have the possibility to bring other internet options to more parts of the county, the chances of it having any positive effect anytime soon are very little due to the fact that it will be up to individual internet service providers to extend their services to these other areas. That's something that will be very time consuming and costly.