Henderson Valley School in West Auckland, Te Kura o Omaio in the Bay of Plenty and Granity School on the South Island’s West Coast have become the first three schools to be linked in to the ultra-fast broadband network, being rolled out by Chorus and Vodafone as part of the Rural Broadband Initiative. In a statement announcing the connection of the schools to the network, ICT minister Steven Joyce says: “The opportunity for rural students to experience the same learning experience as urban students will dramatically reduce the digital divide.
“The Rural Broadband Initiative is all about providing digital opportunities to more than quarter of a million people in rural communities.”
According to the statement, "The internet services for the first three schools has been provided by their existing internet service providers free of charge for the first six months to allow these students the opportunity to experience the step change in learning improvements.
Joyce says: "MaxNet, Watchdog, Telecom and Smart Computer Systems should be applauded for getting these schools set up in record time to demonstrate these services today. The Ministry of Education will provide other schools connecting to the new RBI fibre with support and guidance in choosing services when they become available in their area. "
As part of the Rural Broadband Agreement between the Ministry of Economic Development and Chorus and Vodafone, more
than 3100km of fibre will be laid and mobile phone coverage extended by 6200 sq km. There will be 154 new cellphone towers constructed which, along with 380 upgraded towers, will offer fixed wireless broadband to rural New Zealanders. As well, 748 rural schools will be connected directly to fibre, while schools in isolated areas will have access to broadband via other technologies, such as satellite or fixed wireless internet connections.