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First rural schools receive ultra fast fibre

The Government’s roll out of fast broadband to rural New Zealand is underway today with the first three rural schools connecting to ultra fast fibre.
Connecting ultra-fast broadband to schools means fibre optic cables going deep into rural New Zealand, bringing fast, fixed and wireless broadband technology to a quarter of a million New Zealanders currently struggling with dial up.

The schools connected today were 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.
                                                                                      
“Today we are taking the first steps to transforming their schools and learning environments,” says Education Minister Anne Tolley.

“With faster connections, these students will now be able to use the very latest learning online programmes. They’ll use high definition video conferencing to talk with other schools around the world and to access the best teaching and learning resources available anywhere in the world.”

“The opportunity for rural students to experience the same learning experience as urban students will dramatically reduce the digital divide,” says Minister for Communications and Information Technology Steven Joyce.

“The Government’s fibre initiatives will not just impact school students. Training and employment opportunities will be enhanced, businesses will find it easier to do business and capitalise on productivity gains, and schools will be able to offer the latest education programmes. The Rural Broadband Initiative is all about providing digital opportunities to more than quarter of a million people in rural communities.”

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. 

"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.  I expect that there will be considerable interest in providing these services to schools,” says Mr Joyce.

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 6200km2. 154 new cell phone towers will be constructed which, along with 380 upgraded towers, will offer fixed wireless broadband to rural New Zealanders. 748 rural schools will be connected directly to fibre, while schools in very isolated areas will have access to broadband via other technologies, such as satellite or fixed wireless internet connections.

A regional roll out schedule will be confirmed later this year.