N.H. schools consortium selects network service provider

The New Hampshire K-12 Schools Connectivity Consortium has selected a new provider of Internet access and managed network services for its members.

Under the three-year contract with Education Networks of America (ENA), Consortium members—including any eligible public or private school district that wishes to join on an opt-in basis—will be able to purchase enhanced connectivity, network, and other services at Consortium pricing. Services available to school districts include high-speed managed broadband Internet access, wide area network service, E-Rate filing assistance, robust content filtering, a carrier-class e-mail collaboration platform, desktop video teleconferencing, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telecommunication services.

The New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) initiated the Consortium so that the state’s public and private school districts could take advantage of the cost and productivity savings as well as enhanced service benefits derived from large-contract economies of scale. This is the first time that schools in New Hampshire will have formed a purchasing consortium of this nature. The Consortium review team, which consisted of representatives from school districts across the state, NHDOE officials and the state broadband director, analyzed four bids during the competitive request for proposal (RFP) process. The proposal submitted by ENA earned the highest overall score, leading to the review team recommending ENA as the Consortium provider.

The team cited ENA’s exemplary track record serving the K–12 community and the company’s substantial experience deploying and managing large-district and statewide education networks maximizing E-Rate funding.

“High-speed broadband services have become crucial to instructional activities and administrative operations," said Dr. Cathy Higgins, State Educational Technology Director for the NHDOE."This project not only provides important equity of access to broadband services to New Hampshire schools, but also assists schools in leveraging the E-Rate program that provides funding for these services.”

One of the defining features of the ENA proposal is the opportunity to involve multiple in-state carriers, beginning with FairPoint Communications as a primary, though not exclusive partner.

“Since April 2008, FairPoint has invested $129 million in a new network infrastructure, called VantagePoint™, a fiber core, IP-based network that is designed to carry large amounts of data quickly and efficiently and will provide the foundation for ENA’s managed services,” said Teresa Rosenberger, FairPoint state president for New Hampshire.

Participation in the Consortium is voluntary and not required by the state. The NHDOE has filed an E-Rate Form 470 on the USAC Schools and Libraries Division website on behalf of Consortium members. A campaign will be undertaken to notify the state’s schools of the consortium purchasing opportunity; schools may elect to join beginning in the first, second, or third year of the current contract.