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The information presented on this page was originally released on July 21, 2011. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
High-speed access is key in educational use
Although 99 percent of all Mississippi public schools have access to a high-speed Internet connection, when the school bell rings in the afternoon, nearly half of all Mississippi students go home to a household with no Internet connectivity.
Types of Internet access include dial-up, DSL (through the telephone company), satellite, or mobile hotspots available from cell phone carriers. Unfortunately, Mississippi ranks last in the nation in access to high-speed or broadband Internet access, and that can hurt a student’s ability to research and download schoolwork online.
The primary barriers to Mississippi households having high-speed Internet access are awareness, location and cost.
Awareness is a barrier in seeking high-speed Internet, also known as broadband access, because many people do not understand the benefit. To address this issue, the Extension Broadband Education Adoption Team (e-BEAT) has been formed. Housed at the Mississippi State University Extension Service, the team’s focus is to provide the educational backbone for broadband in Mississippi.
Bo Beaulieu, director for the Mississippi Broadband Initiative, said there will be two regional broadband coordinators located in Extension offices in Newton and DeSoto counties as well as four coordinators located at the Research and Extension Centers (Biloxi, Verona, Raymond and Stoneville). Their focus will be to provide organizational assistance for local communities to adopt and utilize high-speed Internet, deliver educational content, assist public anchor institutions, and aid individuals, local governments and businesses in adopting and using high-speed Internet.
Most of Mississippi is rural. Low concentrations of people make it difficult for companies to justify the expense of running the fiber-optic cable to supply high-speed Internet access.
The cost of delivering high-speed Internet limits its access in homes across Mississippi. The federal and state governments are working with Internet providers to upgrade resources across the state. With improved infrastructure comes the ability for service providers to reach rural communities.
At the consumer level, high-speed Internet access can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 a month, depending on the package selected. Most Internet packages are marketed as basic, high-speed or ultra. To know the actual speed of the package, check the megabytes/kilobytes, or Mbps/Kbps, ratio.
The first number indicates the number of megabytes downloaded per second, it tells how quickly files, such as pictures or videos, can download to the computer. The second number indicates the number of kilobytes uploaded per second, it refers to how quickly files will upload to be printed or attached to e-mails.
The higher the number, the faster the upload or download time. Many companies offer options with higher Mbps/Kbps, and this option usually costs more.