The Ministers for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey T.D. and for Education and Science Mary Hanafin T.D. today updated progress in relation to the Schools Broadband Access Programme. The Programme is being undertaken in partnership with industry, following the establishment of a three year €18m joint Government IBEC / TIF (Telecommunications and Internet Federation) Fund targeted at local connectivity provision to schools. In addition local connectivity would be moderated through a National Schools Network providing a range of security and content filtering facility for schools and schools assisted and advised on the process through a National Service Desk.
A public procurement process was undertaken in 2004 designed to achieve the optimal solution for each school having regard to the broadband delivery technology options available. This has now been completed and a mix of broadband technologies will be utilised in schools, including wireless, fixed line and satellite technologies.
Further to the announcement earlier this year on the results of the competitive tender process, all seven successful operators have concluded contracts and are working to connect all schools across the country as speedily as possible in what is a complex and multi-faceted project.
The breakdown by delivery technology will see the delivery of connectivity to 841 schools by fixed line (e.g. DSL), 1,507 by Wireless and 1,577 by satellite and a full schedule listing the services to be provided to individual schools can be found on the web-sites of both Departments. Eircom will supply routers to some 3,393 schools while BT Ireland will supply same to three further schools.
These Operators will be installing connectivity and routers over the Summer, throughout the Autumn and up to March 2006 to Primary and Post-Primary schools nationally.
The National Network has been established within HEAnet and the National Service Desk created under the NCTE and operated by Cara Computing Ltd. The overall cost of the programme, including the contribution from Industry will be in the region of €30m over the next three years.
Both Ministers acknowledged the part being played by the Telecommunications Sector in the provision of broadband connectivity to schools in relation its contribution to the €18 million joint IBEC-TIF / Government fund and re-iterated their thanks to the contributing companies which include BT Ireland, Digiweb, Eircom, eNet, Irish Broadband, MCI, Meteor, NTL O2 and Vodafone
Minister Dempsey noted that 'the Broadband for Schools Programme marks a significant step towards extending the broadband community across the country and showcasing the possibilities that broadband can bring to the learning generation.'
Minister Hanafin said that 'the provision of broadband to schools
represents a crucial element in the Government's policy of integrating
ICT into teaching and learning at first and second level. I have every
confidence that both teachers and pupils will derive great benefit from
this additional and worthwhile facility.'