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Broadband on its way to schools

16 September 2004

Broadband on its way to Northland and Wairarapa schools

A further 92 schools and their communities in Northland and Wairarapa are set to benefit from access to broadband infrastructure as a result of today’s signing of two further Project PROBE contracts.

Elizabeth Eppel Ministry of Education Project PROBE Steering Group Chair signed contracts with the two independent Project PROBE regions that have contracted Telecom to provide the service.

"These two contracts see our goal of having most schools in New Zealand on line to receive high speed internet by the end of this year on target,” Elizabeth Eppel said.

“With 14 of the 15 Project PROBE contracts in place, leaving only the satellite option to be signed, the rollout of broadband into all the regions is well underway.

"Broadband has enormous potential to support the effectiveness of our teachers and the learning achievements of our students by giving them access to interactive and multi-media learning resources and video conferencing.

“Through Project PROBE high-speed broadband networks will be extended to some 900 schools throughout New Zealand, including 23 schools in the Wairarapa and 69 in Northland.

“This is an exciting step towards ensuring our rural schools, businesses and communities have the essential infrastructure in place to function as effective information age communities.

“Project PROBE is Government's multimillion-dollar investment to boost education and economic development through the delivery of broadband technology to regional New Zealand.

"This critical infrastructure investment ensures students and families, businesspeople and employees have the same opportunities in education and economic development, regardless of where they live and work.”

Contact: Christine Seymour 04 463 8015

Questions and Answers

What is Project PROBE? Project PROBE is a major government initiative. Project PROBE stands for Provincial Broadband Extension and has been developed jointly by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economic Development.

What is Broadband? Broadband is the name given to two way high speed, high capacity, always connected form of telecommunications. It offers a unique opportunity to countries with low population densities such as New Zealand in addressing quality and timely healthcare access and equity issues across the spectrum of Health Information, Health Commerce and Telemedicine applications. To illustrate the capabilities of Broadband, the following table presents the time it takes to transfer a typical X-ray image from the Internet to a personal computer using different telecommunication types.
Speed Time
Dial-Up Internet 58 minutes
ISDN Connection 24 minutes
Residential Broadband <3 minutes
Business Broadband <40 seconds

What are the benefits of having high speed internet access? Broadband internet opens up huge opportunities for students and schools in remote and isolated country regions – opportunities that students in urban areas already have. Through broadband students in Wairoa will have access to the same information as students in Wellington or New York. Broadband-enabled two-way video conferencing can allow school subjects like advanced sciences and mathematics and te Reo to be taught to learners in very remote schools.

Rural businesses will be able to tap into the same internet capability as businesses in the cities. Broadband is a major tool for businesses in terms of accessing information, opening up new markets, enabling access to world markets, and driving increased efficiency through e-commerce.

The extension of broadband coverage will also bring enhanced benefits to rural communities in the form of improved access to health and social services and to a range of other public services and information already on the internet.

How much is Project PROBE costing? The tender process remains commercially sensitive and while it is still in progress no figures for the overall cost of the project will be released.

How does Project PROBE work? Fourteen geographical regions have been established throughout New Zealand, with a 15th region to provide national satellite coverage for those schools where a terrestrial solution would be impractical.

The 14 regions are: Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawkes Bay/Gisborne, Taranaki, Manawatu/Wanganui, Wairarapa, Wellington/Kapiti/Horowhenua, Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury (including Chatham Islands), Otago, and Southland.

Three regions – Southland, Wairarapa and Northland, elected to proceed with independent tendering processes with the understanding that, provided government objectives for Project PROBE were met, funding from the PROBE project would be available to meet at least some of their costs.

When will the other contract be signed? The Internet Company of New Zealand (ICONZ) is the preferred supplier for the satellite option and the contract signing is expected shortly.

When will broadband coverage throughout New Zealand be complete? Most schools and their communities will have access to broadband by the end of 2004. In a few areas broadband coverage will be completed by June next year. Completion details are available on the Project PROBE website.


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