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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Yukon Ho!

I was poking around the Search Commitments tool, and I thought, "I wonder what's the biggest FRN committed so far?"  $27 million in E-Rate funding!  "Wow," I thought, "can even NYC get that high with the $150/student cap on Category 2?"  So I looked over at the applicant name.  "Lower Kuskokwim? This must be a typo.  Wait, is that in Alaska?"  Yup.  That district of 4,025 students spends over $30 million on Internet and WAN each year.  Well, the E-Rate spends $27 million and they spend $3 million.  That's a pre-discount cost of $7,668.73 per student.  Every year.  Wow.  Kind of puts that $150/student Category 2 budget in a different perspective, doesn't it?

How could data transmission possibly cost so much?  Just look at the map of the schools.  Some of those schools are over 100 miles from the district office.  At 26,253.5 square miles in area, it's the 8th-largest district in Alaska (and the 8th-largest in the U.S., since the 14 largest districts are all in Alaska).  Microwave towers can only be like 30 miles apart, right?  And I don't think anyone's stringing fiber across the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.  Here's a map showing how it's done.

Getting back to my first thought: with around 1 million students, the NYCDOE can get an average of around $30 million in C2 funding every year (though they could take it in one $150 million pile if they wanted).

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