What’s the cost per MB of broadband for a school? $0.73, $11 or $58 depending

MSBA Capitol Connections recently ran an article from Marc Johnson of ECMECC – he has done guest posts here too. Marc knows broadband, education and rural – maybe better than he wants to know it!

He took a look at what schools pay for broadband…


  • The cost per Megabit (Mb) of Internet access for Anoka-Hennepin schools is $0.73. The district purchases 10Gb or 10,000Mb to serve their staff and nearly 38,000 students. The cost is $7,252 per month. That equates to $2.31 per student per year — or about 0.04 percent of the basic general education formula aid provided by the state.

  • In Braham, less than 50 miles north of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, the cost per Mb is $11, which is still $2 below the state average. The Braham Area School District purchases 100Mb to serve their 839 students which equates to $16.16 per student per year — or about 0.2 percent of the formula aid.

  • In west-central Minnesota, the Herman-Norcross School District spends $58 per Mb of Internet access. They purchase 45Mb for their staff and 92 students at an average cost of $2,610 per month. The cost per student per year is $340.43 — or about 5.5 percent of their formula aid.

The difference is shocking! You can read his article for a more eloquent elaboration on how and why it’s shocking, I’ll cut right to the chase and share his recommendations to help schools get better broadband at a rate they can afford…

So, what can we do about this? I suggested the following possibilities to the Task Force.

  • Fully fund the state Telecommunications Equity Aid program. It would cost $7 million per year (an increase from $3.75 million per year to $10.75 million per year) to fully fund Internet access in Minnesota schools for the next five years or more. This program is intended to help equalize telecommunications costs for schools, but now covers only about 40 percent of the cost (after E-rate) leaving a large gap for the schools where costs are highest.

  • Continue to support the E-rate program which provided more than $47 million in funding to Minnesota schools in 2015.

  • Support increased competition among providers (or incentives). We know competition drives down prices.

  • Support economies of scale. While most Minnesota school districts buy Internet access as part of a cooperative, there are opportunities for the cooperatives to work together along with the state to find additional savings.

  • Support the Border to Border grant program and other rural broadband initiatives. While schools themselves can get the access they need, many of our students still cannot.


This entry was posted in Digital Divide, education, Minnesota Advisory Task Force, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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