Schools take time over broadband

Ultra-fast broadband is now running past more than half of the southern region's school gates, but so far fewer than a third of the schools have tapped into the cable which can provide large amounts of data, faster.

A Chorus spokeswoman said as of this week, 137 schools in the Dunedin, Invercargill, Oamaru and Queenstown areas had fibre built to the school and were ready for service.

However, only 38 of the schools (28%) had actually ordered and been connected through one of the retail service providers (RSP).

The introduction was still continuing at about 93 schools in Otago and Southland.

Running thousands of kilometres of fibre optic cable and ducting past schools, businesses and homes means it will be possible to deliver the highest data speeds which can support services such as internet television and high definition video conferencing.

Maori Hill School principal Alistair Campbell said fibre was now running past the school, but it had not yet connected to it.

The school had investigated connections, but Mr Campbell said he could not find a provider who could offer a ''static IP'' which would suit the school's system.

Since then, the Ministry of Education had announced it would be providing free access to the cable through the Network for Living (N4L) initiative, which should be available from the start of next year.

Like many schools in the region, his would wait for N4L to become available.

The first schools are expected to connect through N4L by the end of 2013 and more than 700 schools should connect by the end of 2014.

All schools will be able to connect by the end of 2016.

Rather than wait, 38 schools have connected through another retail service provider.

Clutha Valley School principal Val Ward said it connected as soon as it could after fibre was sent past the school's gate, because without it, the school's use of the internet was limited.

''The old system was slow and often almost non-existent in the afternoons.

''Now we are able to do a whole lot more, like classroom blogs, google mail, and we can use all our computers at the same time, rather than just a few at a time.

''We can now move streets ahead with the technology available - we can go wherever we want.''

The board of trustees felt the school would be doing a great ''disservice'' to its pupils by not being connected, she said.

The Ministry of Education hopes to establish fibre-based connections to 97.7% of New Zealand schools and 99.9% of pupils by 2016 under its Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Macraes Moonlight, Makarora, and Tahakopa schools are among the remaining 2.3% of schools which are in areas too remote for fibre, and will have access to improved broadband services via wireless technology.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

Introduction
Ultrafast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiative in Otago and Southland:
Fibre available to 137 schools38 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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