Macedonia, a landlocked, mountainous Balkan nation, might hold the record for the quickest deployment of broadband Internet connectivity to public primary and secondary schools.
The Macedonia Connects project was established in 2004 as a partnership between the Macedonian education ministry and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), although its roots extended back two years earlier with a donation of 5,000 computers from China. The culmination of this international effort was a record-breaking connection of all Macedonia’s schools to the Internet between May and September 2005.
The project to implement Internet connectivity in all 360 primary and 100 secondary schools had its roots in a 2002 donation of 5,000 computers by China. It was decided that providing Internet access would enhance the potential of the computers.238 At the time, only a few of Macedonia’s urban secondary schools had broadband access. Broadband was not available to rural schools, and dial-up Internet access was too expensive.
Macedonia Connects was a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES), USAID, and a local ISP called on.net. The project was administered by the Academy for Educational Development (AED).
On.net was tasked with the job of connecting all schools between May and September 2005. The summer deployment was scheduled in order for the links to be operational at the start of the 2005-2006 school year. On 15 August 2005, the wireless backbone was completed, and on 14 September 2005, a 310 megabit-per-second (Mbps) international Internet connection was launched. All schools were connected before the end of September 2005.239
AED, mk connects: Macedonia Links Education and Connectivity (2009).
238 Hunsberger, Kelley, “A Country Connects.” PM NETWORK, June 2006.
239 MOTOROLA, “Motorola’s MOTOwi4 Canopy™ Wireless Broadband Platform Scores Big Win in Becoming First National Network.” Press Release, 16 January 2006 http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/motorolas-motowi4-canopytm-wireless-broadband-platform-scores-big-win-in-becoming-first-national-network-53540377.html (accessed 4 February 2013).