Broadband technology

There are many benefits to connecting schools with broadband networks. But few plans to connect schools actually define what broadband means in terms of speed. It is important for plans to detail broadband specifications, since the connectivity requirements of schools vary tremendously. A large urban school with many students, for instance, will need more bandwidth than a small rural school.91 At the same time, inadequate bandwidth will inhibit the use of some applications, undercutting the usefulness of the service for educational purposes.

Malaysia found that a bandwidth of 128 kilobits per second (downlink) and 64 kbps (uplink) “was insufficient to support the Smart School Applications Software and communications requirements.”92 In developed countries, broadband speeds in school connectivity initiatives include:

- Australia: 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for 90 per cent of schools and 12 Mbps for the remainder;93

- Ireland: 100 Mbps for post-primary schools;94

- United Kingdom: 2, 5, 10 or 100 Mbps for schools in London.95

It is also important to set Internet speed guidelines for deployments that may be outsourced to third parties. Different levels of Internet connectivity may be appropriate for different schools, depending on the school’s size or location.

91“Effective ICT-driven innovation in the classroom requires a basic minimum transmission speed of about 128 kbps per networked computer. This means that schools with about 80 students and up require network access at broadband levels, while schools with smaller populations can rely more on narrowband delivery.” Botswana National ICT Plan.

92Case Study on ICT integration into education in Malaysia: "The Malaysian Smart School Project."

93Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, “High Speed Broadband to Schools Overview” at http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/DigitalEducationRevolution/HighSpeedBroadband/Pages/HighSpeedBroadbandToSchoolsOverview.aspx

94Irish Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Schools 100 MBS Project, http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/Communications+Development/Schools+Broadband+Access+Programme/


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