Internet routed through the ether

Makarora Primary School and the Makarora community are expected to have been provided with a "fast wireless" broadband connection to the internet before the end of this school year.

A continuous series of 11 microwave links will provide a broadband connection for the small, remote town on State Highway 6, near the Haast Pass, by linking to the fibre-optic cable running through Dunedin.

The sophisticated new digital link is part of the Government's $300 million rural broadband initiative.

The work, including the installation of three new microwave links between Makarora and Long Gully, near Wanaka, is being done by Wellington-based Araneo Wireless Solutions, owned by TeamTalk Ltd.

General manager Nick Lourantos told the Otago Daily Times this week the company had won the government contract to provide wireless internet access to 57 of the country's most remote schools.

This included, in the south and west, Blackmount, Makarora, Haast and Jacobs River primary schools.

Makarora school principal Lynley Ward said her school already had internet access with a "reasonable speed". It was better than dial-up and better than residential broadband available in parts of the Upper Clutha.

"But it's not as fast as we would like it to be because things like YouTube don't download without having to restart a few times."

Ms Ward said the concern was that Makarora school, and its 15 pupils, might be "left way in the dust" as other schools got ultrafast broadband.

She hoped the new system would deliver a similar capability to ultrafast broadband and allow for such things as video conferencing.

Makarora has a population of about 70 to 80 spread over a wide area and Mr Lourantos said spare capacity would be available to residents on a "first-come, first-served" basis.



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