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August 20, 2013

Englewood Cliffs Public Schools Considering Upgrade to Fiber Optic Cable



By Christopher Mohr
TMCnet Contributing Writer



The Englewood Cliffs Public Schools district is considering an upgrade to fiber optic cable. The two possible choices are to purchase the line or lease it.

Englewood Cliffs Public Schools is located in the borough of Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in Bergen County, on the west side of the Hudson from the Bronx, NY. The borough is among the state’s more affluent areas with a median household income of over $111,000 per year. The district has 478 students in grades K-8 and consists of two schools, North Cliff School (grades K-2) and the Upper School (grades 3-8).

The cable would be run between the two schools and greatly improve bandwidth. Purchasing the line is estimated to cost about $140,000 and does not include maintenance costs. The district would be stuck with the cable and have to deal with the costs of removing it when it’s time for an upgrade.

Leasing the line would cost $72,000 per year for five years, with the possibility of some of the costs covered by funding for a lunch program. Under this plan, the district does not have any cable to worry about maintaining and has more freedom to consider better technology when the lease is up. 


image via shutterstock

The district needs more information to make a decision on the matter as several questions appear to be unanswered: How much funding would be available from the lunch program that could be applied to a lease? Does it all come from Englewood Cliffs taxpayers or other sources? How much would it cost to remove the cable if it was purchased? Could lunch program funding be applied to any cable costs if the line was purchased? How much are maintenance costs on a purchased line?

Fiber optic cable is being installed in many places in an effort to improve bandwidth. Google (News - Alert) is piloting its Google Fiber program in Kansas City, MO and Austin, TX. If it becomes widespread, it would change broadband business in the U.S. dramatically.

Queen Anne’s County, MD announced back in June that its schools would be connected with cable as of July 1 and would connect with other schools, community colleges, public libraries and 911 dispatch centers. The town of Princeton, Mass. recently hired a firm to install fiber optic cable, connecting homes, town offices and schools in the area.

Without knowing the costs, it appears that the financial risks of purchasing and installing fiber optic cable would be minimal to Englewood Cliffs Public Schools. Other organizations have committed to purchasing and do not seem concerned with maintenance costs or obsolescence within the next five years. Nonetheless, there is no substitute for due diligence. It’s the least the district can do for its taxpayers.




Edited by Ryan Sartor
 
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