23 May 2011

Some schools 'could miss out' on broadband roll-out

6:02 am on 23 May 2011

Farmer and internet groups are concerned that a large number of schools could miss out in the initial roll-out of the Government's broadband programmes.

Federated Farmers, InternetNZ and the Telecommunications Users Association say more than 100,000 students could be disadvantaged.

They have asked the Communications and Education Ministers to respond to analysis that shows about 470 zone three schools, including many in smaller provincial towns and rural servicing centres, will miss out on fibre connections while those in main urban centres and more remote areas are hooked up.

Almost $1 billion was allocated in the Budget to advance the Government's ultra-fast and rural broadband initiatives.

Telecom and Vodaphone have a joint-contract to deliver high-speed internet to 95% of rural schools and 86% of rural households, within five years.

TUANZ chief executive Paul Brislen says many schools fall between the boundaries of ultra fast broadband for urban areas and the rural broadband Initiative.

He says it may be that people in rural areas on farms get better broadband than schools in these areas for the next five or six years.

But Mr Brislen says TUANZ estimates about 90% of these schools are within 2km of existing fibre optic cable, so hopefully it would be relatively easy to prioritise these schools and get them connected more quickly.