PG Telco Ups Schools’ In­ter­net Speed

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kut­ter

PRAIRIE GROVE — Prairie Grove, Farmington and Lin­coln school dis­tricts pur­chase their in­ter­net provider ser­vice from PG Telco and on Oct. 1, the com­pany vol­un­tar­ily in­creased the band­width for all three school dis­tricts at a lower cost than they had been pay­ing pre­vi­ously.

Shawn Witt, tech­nol­ogy and se­cu­rity di­rec­tor for Prairie Grove School District, said he wanted PG Telco to be rec­og­nized be­cause of its part­ner­ship with the three area school dis­tricts.

“My first in­ter­ac­tion with PG Telco was when some­one hit our fiber op­tic ca­ble,” Witt said. “PG Telco came out at cost and spliced the ca­ble back to­gether for us. Our en­tire net­work was down.”

He said the com­pany’s ac­tion was swift and saved the school a lot of money.

When Witt at­tends tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ences and meet­ings, he said other dis­tricts are im­pressed with the ser­vice pro­vided by PG Telco to schools in western Wash­ing­ton County.

“We’re so for­tu­nate to live in this re­gion,” Witt said. “Even other schools within our Coop

(North­west Arkansas Ed­u­ca­tion Ser­vice Co­op­er­a­tive) are jeal­ous of Farmington, Prairie Grove and Lin­coln schools.”

Rick Reed, gen­eral man­ager of PG Telco, said the com­pany has in­creased its ca­pac­ity to han­dle ad­di­tional home use, espe­cially in the evenings when cus­tomers are stream­ing movies and shows from me­dia providers such as Net­flix, Ama­zon and Hulu.

This in­creased ca­pac­ity is not needed dur­ing the day, and Reed said PG Telco de­cided to con­sider in­creas­ing the schools’ in­ter­net speed and ca­pac­ity dur­ing school hours.

“We look at it as unused ca­pac­ity lay­ing there dur­ing the day,” Reed said. “We de­cided we had this, let’s pro­vide this for our schools dur­ing the day.”

He ap­proached the own­ers of PG Telco, the Parks fam­ily, with the idea and they were will­ing to move ahead with the plan.

As of Oct. 1, the three school dis­tricts now have 1 gi­ga­bit in­ter­net band­width, which is about five times the ca­pac­ity they had be­fore.

“We in­creased their band­width to make sure they have enough to do what they want to do,” Reed said.

Witt said in­ter­net band­width needs con­tinue to in­crease as more and more ser­vices at the schools are run­ning off the in­ter­net. In Prairie Grove, for ex­am­ple, all stu­dents in third through eighth grades have their own elec­tronic de­vices to use ev­ery­day. In ad­di­tion, teach­ers are us­ing in­ter­net con­nec­tions more than ever be­fore.

More band­width al­lows the district to main­tain a mod­ern­ized cur­ricu­lum and en­ables stu­dents to be con­nected to the in­ter­net, Witt said.

In­creased band­width also is nec­es­sary for on­line test­ing, now man­dated by the state.

Schools re­ceive in­ter­net ca­pac­ity through a state provider ser­vice but it is usu­ally not enough, Witt said.

“It’s awe­some with PG Telco be­cause we don’t have to beg the state for more band­width,” he said, adding, “Now we don’t have any band­width con­cerns.”

Jarod Mor­ri­son, tech­nol­ogy di­rec­tor for Farmington School District, said the school’s on­line speed is 5 times faster and its cost was re­duced by 75 per­cent as a re­sult of the com­pany’s de­ci­sion. Farmington went from 200 megabits to more than 1,000 megabits or 1 gi­ga­bit.

“This helps with how much down­load and up­load band­width ca­pac­ity we have,” Mor­ri­son said.

As an ex­am­ple, he said the high school was able to stream a Youtube video on drug aware­ness to all classes at the same time.

“We couldn’t do that be­fore,” Mor­ri­son said. “Now we don’t have to worry about what we can han­dle.”

Reed said PG Telco sees it­self as a part­ner with the schools in the area.

He pointed out that the three school dis­tricts rep­re­sent the “heart” of each com­mu­nity.

“By do­ing what we can to im­prove their ed­u­ca­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties, that’s good for our busi­ness and it makes these com­mu­ni­ties a good place to live,” Reed said. “We be­lieve our schools are one of the main at­trac­tions to liv­ing in Wash­ing­ton County. If we can be a part of that, we want to do that.”


This cam­era is set up in the class­room of Farmington High teacher Hai­ley Spears so that view­ers can watch trout grow through a live videostream shown 24 hours. This live stream is pos­si­ble be­cause of more in­ter­net ca­pac­ity.

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