School among first to link to UFB network

Taieri College has become one of the first schools in Otago and Southland to connect to the ultrafast broadband network, and it is having a major impact on the school's operations.

Nearly 140 schools in the Dunedin, Invercargill, Oamaru and Queenstown areas now have fibre built to the school gates. Taieri College is one of only 38 which have ordered and been connected to it through one of the retail service providers.

The majority of schools with fibre running past their gate have not yet connected because they are waiting for the Ministry of Education to provide free access through its Network for Living (N4L) initiative.

However, Taieri College principal David Hunter said the school decided not to wait, and connected with a retail service provider last week because there did not seem to be a confirmed date for when N4L would be available to the school.

The first schools are expected to connect through N4L by the end of 2013, with more than 700 schools connecting by the end of 2014, and all schools will be able to connect by the end of 2016.

''We could be waiting for a long time. It's one of those things - we haven't been given an indication of when it will be available for us.''

It was necessary to connect to ultrafast broadband because the school used more than 300 computers at any given time, and under the previous system their operations were very slow, Mr Hunter said.

''No-one likes watching that little circle go around and around.

''The new system is much quicker and it allows us to do so much more with our students, teaching-wise.

''There were limitations to what we could do. Those limitations have been taken away.

''The school is able to do video conferencing without affecting the school's other computers; we can download video content much faster; and future-wise it will potentially open many more educational doors.''

Overall, ultrafast broadband had brought an element of relief to the school, he said.

''It's taken away a bit of frustration from the job. There's nothing worse than a slow computer.''

Ultrafast broadband is still to be built to the gates of 93 other schools in the southern region.

The Ministry of Education hopes to establish fibre-based connections to 97.7% of New Zealand schools and 99.9% of pupils by 2016.


UFB and rural broadband

In the ultrafast broadband and rural broadband initiative roll-out in Otago and Southland:

• Fibre available to 137 schools.

• 38 schools have connected.

• Fibre still to be made available to 93 schools.

• 97.7% of New Zealand schools to be connected by 2016.

• 2.3% of schools to have wireless technology.


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