New Jersey district uses Lightpath for fiber network

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To support about 3,000 iPads, Ramsey Public School District in New Jersey contracted with telecom company Lightpath –– and now enjoys a faster Wi-Fi connection and more bandwidth, the technology director said.

The district, which comprises three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school, is connected by a private fiber network, where the schools can share the same internet connection. Before upgrading with Lightpath, which is owned by Cablevision, the connection was only about 100 megabits per second.

“That grew to be a 1-gig connection as the technology grew,” said Ryan Kenny, director of technology for the district, in an interview with EdScoop.

Kenny added that the district also recently installed a 10-gig connection between the middle and high schools, since the students use many of the same programs and technologies.

“It’s the backbone of everything,” he said of the network. “The whole thing is, we need to have the infrastructure to make the technology as seamless and unnoticeable as possible.”

He said the fiber network upgrade saves the district about $200 a month. The bundled package they get from Lightpath “includes our internet, phone and wide-area network” service, he said.

For its one-to-one program, the district gave out about 1,800 iPads to all middle and high school students. There are another 1,000 or so of the tablets that are available on laptop carts for other grades.

Kenny said he noticed a difference when kids were able to bring their devices home.

“The ownership falls onto the kids, so there is much less of the day-to-day damage, when before you had a cart,” Kenny said of students who would mar the devices when they were just at school. “Now, the kid knows, ‘This is mine
and if I do something to it I’m not gonna be able to do much in school the next
day.'”

The schools also have a content filter using a proxy server, so when they’re off campus, student work is still protected. Their work will be stored on Google Drive or the iCloud.

“We still manage them for security reasons when they’re at home,” Kenny said. “It was another reason to upgrade, because they’re basically using our internet connection when they’re at home.”

And is there ever a problem with the internet –– a slow connection, or an outage?

“I never really talk to [Lightpath] because there are never really problems,” he said. “You get the occasional hiccup, but it happens so rarely. It’s one of the things we rely
on, and we probably take it for granted because we never have any problems.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the company. It is Lightpath, not LightPath Technologies.

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

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