Broadband and WiFi Transform Learning in Schools
County Plans to Wire All Schools in Three Years
Towson, Maryland (August 21, 2013) – Woodlawn High School students and faculty cheered this morning as County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and BCPS Superintendent S. Dallas Dance announced that their school is one of the first to "go live" as part of a massive high-speed broadband fiber optic cable installation that will save Baltimore County millions of dollars while greatly enhancing Internet bandwidth and enabling the installation of WiFi at County schools and other institutions.
Installation Complete in 46 Schools
Woodlawn High School is one of 46 schools to be included as part of a broadband fiber optic network with nearly 160 miles of fiber planned to connect to 115 sites. Within three years, the County's broadband network will encompass all Baltimore County public schools, four universities, and 40 public safety facilities, health and general facilities, MEMA and Maryland Public Television.
"This initiative is a major step forward in preparing our students to compete in the 21st century workforce," said Kamenetz. "This high speed broadband technology will be transformative in the classroom, better reflecting our ever-changing world."
"This is another example of how— together with our county government partners—we are fulfilling our commitment to prepare globally competitive students," said Dance. "Education is about connecting our students to the world and to the future. These fiber optic cables will help do that. This wiring project helps create the infrastructure needed to support the innovative digital learning environments we will be creating in all of our schools. Today we demonstrate yet again the strength of the partnership between County government and County schools and our shared dedication to providing the best education possible for the students of Baltimore County Public Schools."
Officials project that the broadband network will generate between $1 million and $1.5 million in yearly savings to the County by reducing the charges paid to Internet and phone providers. The new technology will increase the bandwidth currently available at County schools at least tenfold, vastly increasing Internet speeds, enabling the installation of WiFi technology and improving access to large data files, video and graphic content, and more.
The project's total cost of $18.6 million is funded with a $14.4 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), with Baltimore County providing a cash match of $3.5 million and in-kind services valued at $700,000.
In addition to connecting schools, public safety and health functions within the County, some broadband fiber will be made available for businesses to lease in order to help spur economic development.
"In today's world, broadband fiber optic networks are as important as the roadways and other basic infrastructure that citizens and businesses alike depend on every day," said County Council Chair Tom Quirk. "I commend the County Executive and Dr. Dance for bringing these important advancements into our schools to help our classrooms catch up to where technology already is and keep our children globally competitive in the fast-changing technology landscape."