Broadband for all on the way



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1 April 2005 | 0

As schools around the country wound down for the summer break, news of long overdue additional IT funding was announced. This latest grant, specifically for networking, plans to help schools improve existing infrastructure to fully exploit the rollout of broadband connectivity nationwide.

This expected rollout is part of the National Broadband Programme for Schools — a joint €18 million initiative between the government and the Telecommunications Industry Federation. It will provide a centrally managed national broadband network for all schools complete with an Internet helpdesk, secure e-mail, content filtering, firewall, anti-virus and spam management.

Using various technologies including DSL, wireless and satellite, the rollout will begin this autumn and it is envisaged that every school irrespective of geographical location will have access to a minimum bandwidth of 512Kbit/sec by 2005. A broadband router will be installed in each school to facilitate a connection to the national network but provision of classroom access will be the responsibility of each individual school.

To maximise the potential learning opportunities afforded by the improved connectivity, a whole-school network must be in place and as such networks are still uncommon, particularly at primary level, additional funding for internal networking is now available from the Department of Education and Science. Schools can apply before September 27th, outlining their network plan which must meet the minimum standards specified and individual grants will be weighted by school size, 50 per cent payable on approval with the remainder paid upon completion. However, larger schools may need to adopt a
phased approach to the implementation of their proposed plan due to limits on initial funding.





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