As they seek the most cost-effective way to meet the computing needs of their students, many schools and school systems are considering Chromebooks. Our testing revealed a hidden cost to these inexpensive systems: they can create significantly more network traffic than notebooks running Windows—an average of 152.3 times more traffic across our seven scenarios and as much as 692.2 times more.
With roughly 80 percent of schools reporting that their broadband connections fell short of their current needs, few schools would be able to absorb extra network traffic from Chromebooks without expanding their network infrastructure, and continuing to pay for this cost over time. The fact that all of the students in a class tend to do the same things at the same time of day can compound the problem of network traffic bottlenecks, lowering the quality of the educational experience and frustrating students.
It is clear that any school that decides to adopt Chromebooks for student use must plan for adequate network capabilities. The cost of increasing these capabilities could easily negate the savings of purchasing Chromebooks, making Windows devices an even more attractive choice.