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October 25, 2014

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North Las Vegas charter school gets state’s fastest Internet

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Students learn about financial literacy at 100 Academy of Excellence in North Las Vegas on Friday, Oct. 21, 2011.

A North Las Vegas charter school is the first K-12 school in Nevada to offer ultrafast Internet connection to students and staff.

As part of its community outreach efforts, Cox Communications Las Vegas has outfitted 100 Academy of Excellence with fiber-optic lines, an improvement over its copper cables. The company plans to unveil the new high-speed Internet today.

The fiber-optics wiring will boost the North Las Vegas charter school’s Internet speeds to 1 gigabit per second, which is seven times faster than the fastest service residents can purchase from Cox, and the same as what businesses can purchase.

“We could not be more excited about rolling out this extremely fast Internet service to the 100 Academy of Excellence,” Mike Bolognini, Cox Las Vegas’ market vice president, said in a statement. “This high-end speed opens up new vistas for the administrators, faculty and students … and will aid them in managing the demands of learning as it continues to evolve into the virtual space.”

Although many universities and corporations have switched to fiber-optic service, it's a growing market for residential homes and K-12 schools.

Last year, CenturyLink Las Vegas announced it is launching 1 gigabit-per-second Internet for residents living in the west and northwest valley. Google is expanding its “Google Fiber” program to 36 cities, including Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah — but not Las Vegas.

Fiber-optic Internet allows home users to download a two-hour movie in less than two minutes. For businesses and colleges, it allows hundreds of computer users to access the Internet, stream video lessons and video-conference without hiccups.

Cox, the nation’s third-largest telecommunications company, provides fiber-optic service to more than 5,000 schools and colleges across the country, serving more than 3.2 million students. Several school districts Arizona, include those in Mesa, Scottsdale and Tempe, have upgraded their campuses to 1 gigabit-per-second Internet through Cox.

For 100 Academy, this will transform the school’s technology capabilities, according to Principal Peggy Selma.

The charter school has 144 computers, 30 iPads and 36 “smartboards.” When all the devices were connected to the Internet, the school ran into bandwidth issues — slowing down classroom learning and bogging down the administrative office, Selma said.

“We couldn’t do our business,” Selma said. “We were having so many problems because our technology couldn’t keep pace.”

With fiber-optic Internet, 100 Academy can run 120 streams of high-definition video, 30 video-conference sessions and upload the entire 32-book set of the Encyclopedia Britannica to a server — all simultaneously, according to Cox representatives.

Students are “digital natives” who will use technology and the Internet throughout their school and work careers, Selma said.

The charter school plans to use the fiber-optic service to allow its 700 students to surf the web for information, set up video-conference lessons with outside experts and back up its student data.

It also will help 100 Academy administer online testing to its students. Next year, all Nevada third- through eighth-graders will take an online standardized test that is aligned to more rigorous national academic standards.

Now that it has super high-speed Internet, 100 Academy is looking to update its computers, which run on Microsoft Windows XP, Selma added.

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