The digital classroom is becoming the norm in K-12 schools in the US. That means the Federal E-rate program, which provides affordable telecommunications, internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries, must keep up with the demand. Schneider Electric has been part of the E-rate program for 20 years, and now our StruxureWare Data Center Expert (Now branded EcoStruxure IT Data Center Expert) is on the list of approved solutions.
A recent clarification of the policy confirmed that “software supporting the components on this list used to distribute high-speed broadband throughout school buildings and libraries” are covered, and made the inclusion of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software possible.
Modernizing the E-rate Program
When the E-rate program was first created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Section 254), only 14 percent of classrooms had internet access, according to the FCC. Today, smartphones and tablets have replaced projectors and paper, as digital learning becomes prolific.
An FCC survey identified a broadband gap, so the E-rate program was modernized through a 2014 order to address the inequity. Of the E-rate recipients who responded to the survey, nearly half reported lower connectivity speed than the average American home. Yet, they had 200 times as many users.
The program continues to evolve, and the latest news can be found through the Universal Service Administrative Company, the organization that administers the program.
The Advantage of DCIM’s Remote Management Capabilities
The addition of DCIM to the E-rate program is especially valuable to school districts that typically must manage distributed IT with centralized IT staff. Within the various locations are multiple environments, like electrical closets, where rack systems and UPS’ will be. This makes infrastructure management particularly challenging.
StruxureWare Data Center Expert is notably vendor neutral so it can not only manage Schneider Electric’s E-rate approved UPS’, but also a range of any manufacturer’s equipment. The scalable monitoring software collects, organizes, and distributes critical alerts, surveillance video, and other key information — and provides a unified view from anywhere on the network.
Its features include real-time monitoring, user-defined reports and graphs, and instant fault notification and escalation. This leads to quick assessment and resolution of critical infrastructure events that can adversely affect IT system availability.
A centralized repository of information can be accessed by multiple users from anywhere on the network. The tool’s open and flexible architecture can expand and change with the needs of schools and libraries.
Ultimately, the use of DCIM can cut energy and operational costs. Plus, in this case, it helps prevent what would be a tough situation for teachers — a room full of students with no connectivity.
Find more details about DCIM solutions in this overview.