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Kiwi Children Benefitting From Fibre Broadband

Media release 13 November 2009

Kiwi Children Benefitting From Fibre Broadband

More than 100 schools across the country have now been connected to ultra-fast fibre networks in what is being touted as a major boost for the spread of e-learning. The figure is a milestone for the New Zealand Regional Fibre Group, whose members have been responsible for the progress.

In fact it is more than half the number Education Minister Anne Tolley would like in a separate high-speed internet trial by the end of next year.

The Government wants 97% of New Zealand schools and 99.7% of New Zealand students gaining access to broadband speeds of 100Mbps or greater within the next six years, a challenge the NZRFG believes it can help meet.

The group, a collective of regional lines and fibre companies from around the country, now wants to fast-track connections to dozens more schools over the next 12 months. A number of other NZRFG members have put fibre connections into and past schools, in areas like Whangarei, Christchurch, Pukekohe, Hamilton and Nelson. Fibre connected schools can take part in high definition and real time video-conferencing which allows students to take subjects not offered at their own schools, putting a new twist on e-learning. Fibre connections also drive efficiencies, boost productivity and can lower operating costs.

Network Tasman CEO and NZRFG member Wayne Mackey says the first Nelson school connected to fibre was in 2005, thanks to a forward thinking initiative by the company. “28 are now connected to the fibre loop and we hope to have up to 30 more connected within 18 months. We initially sponsored seven core schools and from there more have joined forces to lay their own fibre, so they actually own the network,” he says.

Network Tasman has one of the highest strike rates in the country for school fibre connections and Wayne Mackey says the more that schools utilise the benefits of fibre networks, the greater the educational benefits will be.

Fellow NZRFG founding member, Vector, has more than 60 North Shore schools, libraries and community buildings connected to its Auckland fibre network - Kristin School, Rangitoto College and Wairau Valley Special School among them.

The company has a further 227 schools in its sights over the next three years and has highlighted Kristin is a great example of a school making maximum use of the network through internet, security, phone and video conferencing capabilities.

Meanwhile, a collective of Hamilton firms is progressing fibre deployment to a number of educational facilities.

Velocity Networks has partnered with Hamilton Fibre Network in a project led by Hamilton City Council and Wintec, and with support from Environment Waikato and the University of Waikato, to provide fibre across the city.

The move has prompted the formation of the Hedon Trust (Hamilton Education Open Network), under which a group of local educators plan to ensure the fibre loop becomes a collaborative learning asset.

Hedon member and Southwell School’s Royce Helm says the Trust will encourage the sharing of resources and teachers across the network.

“As fibre spreads through Hamilton and reaches all 55 schools, it will mean new opportunities for collaborative learning leading to improved educational outcomes and cost savings achieved through shared use of network servers between schools,” says Royce Helm. Velocity business development manager Shane Hobson says he is looking forward to connecting more schools to the Hamilton fibre network.

“We have a mix of public, private and integrated schools on the network who are currently enjoying faster internet access and are beginning to explore new ways of using this to enhance their schools. It is good to see,” says Shane Hobson.


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