Upgrading from narrowband

While many schools have had no Internet access at all, others have benefited from narrowband connections – for example, dial-up or ISDN. As the volume, complexity and size of online content have increased, so too have bandwidth requirements.

Narrowband connections may suffice for simple email and text-based research, but they do not provide an acceptable user experience for multimedia downloading, videoconferencing or online collaboration tools. Narrowband access can also be more expensive than broadband, surprisingly. This is particularly true in countries where users have to pay telephone usage charges for dial-up connectivity. Dial-up is also not a good solution for redistributing access within schools.

Some countries, such as Chile, have established programmes for migrating narrowband-connected schools to broadband connections. In 1998, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Compañía de Telecomunicaciones de Chile (CTC), the incumbent telecommunications operator, reached an agreement for CTC to provide free narrowband (i.e., 64 kbps) access to schools for 10 years.90 In 2004, the MOE began encouraging broadband connectivity in schools, creating a fund to provide subsidies of 50-100 per cent for schools switching to broadband connections. By 2007, 81 per cent of subsidized public schools with Internet access had a broadband connection (see figure below).

Figure 3-6: Internet Availability in Subsidized Chilean Public Schools, by Type of Access

Source: Enlaces.

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