22 Nov 2013

Schools with UFB will be able to share fibre connection

10:25 am on 22 November 2013

Rural Women New Zealand has welcomed the Government announcement that schools with ultra-fast broadband will soon be able to share their fibre connections with their local communities.

But it wants to know whether there will be any consultation before that happens.

The Government broadband roll-out means nearly all schools will have access to ultra-fast broadband by 2016.

As an extension to that, schools will be able to make their fibre infrastructure available to the wider community in their areas, providing some with reliable internet access for the first time.

It offers the potential for schools to raise revenue in same way as they can hire out halls and swimming pools.

The Ministry of Education will be issuing guidelines to schools and boards before the beginning of the 2014 school year on how they can set up a commercial arrangement with internet service providers to provide community access to their fibre connection.

Rural Women executive officer Noeline Holt says anything that improves internet access for rural and remote communities is good, but it wants the ministry to consult before it finalises the guidelines.

She says there will also be questions about how much rural communities will have to pay to get connected to ultra-fast broadband through their schools.

Ms Holt says affordability is the biggest barrier to uptake.