Waiau College is benefiting greatly from its connection to the Cantatech online school network, which is provided to the remote, small Southland high school by BCL.
After looking at options for improving the school’s bandwidth access from what principal Gerry Bradley says was a “ludicrously low” modem speed via Telecom, “we got talking to BCL”.
The solution was to use Xtra’s internet presence in Invercargill as a starting point, with BCL carrying the signal via a Vodafone tower and BCL’s broadband wireless link.
Thus, Waiau College was able to get a connection of up to 128Kbit/s when running at full capacity, Bradley says.
“We don’t always get 128Kbit/s, but it usually exceeds 64Kbit/s, which allows us to operate Cantatech.”
Cantatech, established in 1999, is an online learning programme involving 85 students from more than 10 South Island schools. Students from schools where a subject isn’t taught can take courses over the internet, with the teacher preparing material online and direct communication is via telephone, a two-way Polycom speaker-phone.
The connection is allowing Waiau students to study accounting and geography, for which there are no resident teachers at the college.
Bradley sees a wider range of subjects being offered in the future and while the present arrangement with BCL is working very well, he looks forward to the day when Waiau can offer classes via teleconference, “but 512Kbit/s is necessary for that”.
A way to get that level of bandwidth would be take the ISDN connection out of the loop and go entirely wireless.
“That would allow 2 to 4Gbit/s, but then there’s the question of cost.”