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11:28 AM Sat, Jan. 19th

Local schools, libraries receive funds for high speed internet

More than 60 schools and libraries in Yavapai County will soon have faster internet access, thanks to a successful initiative by the Yavapai County Education Technology Consortium.

The Consortium — comprised of school districts, charter schools, and libraries and facilitated by Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter and led by Stan Goligoski, executive director of Yavapai County Education Service Agency — has won federal and state funding to cover costs associated with bringing high speed fiber, broadband, to rural schools and libraries. Those costs can run as high as $50,000 per mile. Yavapai County — awarded $1.8 million from the Federal Communication Commission’s e-Rate program, including supplemental funding by the Arizona Corporation Commission — is the first in the state to receive support from the e-Rate program. It covers up to 100 percent of the construction costs to extend high speed fiber to schools and libraries. Frank Vander Horst is the e-Rate manager.

Prior to this initiative, none of the schools and libraries in Yavapai County met the FCC recommendations for bandwidth because the service was not available and not affordable. Many of the schools and libraries in Yavapai County have only 1.5 percent of the FCC recommended bandwidth.

But the e-Rate program means that from Crown King to Bagdad and Ash Fork to Hillside, all schools and libraries in Yavapai County will have the opportunity to obtain the internet speeds needed to educate students and serve patrons.

Additionally, the cost of the service has been greatly reduced. Working with Cable One — the new, county-wide internet service provider — the cost for internet access for schools and libraries in Yavapai County has been reduced by, on average, nearly 90 percent. Every school or library in the county will save at least 50 percent on their internet costs, and some will save as much as 98 percent.