School districts upgrading broadband

Deals bring 2-gigabit service to CdA, Post Falls students

The Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls school districts are ramping up their broadband connections, installing 2-gigabit fiber connections provided by Fatbeam Inc.

Fatbeam, based in Post Falls, signed contracts that average 7.5 years in length and that will total more than $2 million.

Both school districts said they were upgrading in order to meet continuing demand for streaming data, video and access to information stored in the cloud.

Until this year, the Coeur d’Alene School District relied on 100-megabit connections at most school facilities. The upgrade provides speeds up to 2 gigabits at district buildings, said Jean Bengfort, IT director of the Coeur d’Alene School District.

Post Falls schools were relying on a wireless network that had reached full capacity, said John Pilmore, the district’s technology coordinator.

Both districts were eligible to use the federal E-Rate program to offset the annual costs. E-Rate money provides discounts on services and products essential for classrooms and libraries to receive voice, video, and data communications.

The amount of the discount depends on the level of poverty and location of the school or library receiving service.

Last school year the Coeur d’Alene District used a different provider and paid roughly $35,000 per year for broadband services, after the E-Rate discount. The contract with Fatbeam raises the cost to about $53,000 per year.

Fatbeam, in a news release, said it is also adding fiber between Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls.

The goals include added connectivity to the University of Idaho Research Park in Post Falls and a network link to the TierPoint facility in Liberty Lake, which provides data services such as collocation and cloud computing.

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