Communications minister Dermot Ahern TD yesterday issued a tender for the provision of broadband access to over 4,000 schools by September next year.
The tender seeks responses from all broadband service providers for the provision of connections and services at a minimum of 512Kbps between school premises and a central network for a period of three years.
The deadline for responses has been set for 24 August, with tender evaluations and contract negotiations completed by November this year. Rollout to the schools is expected to commence in December with a completion target of end September 2005.
The tender appeal is seen as a key element of the Government’s strategy to develop a national managed schools broadband network and helpdesk.
It also represents a follow-up on the agreement between the Government and IBEC for the establishment of a three-year, €18m joint Government/TIF-IBEC fund to resource the provision of high speed broadband connectivity for all first and second level schools nationwide for a three year period.
Commenting on the tender, Ahern said: “The issue of this tender request marks the beginning of a process that will lead to the deployment of broadband connectivity to every school in the country by end September 2005 – allowing all children access to the technologies that will shape society and the workplace in the 21st century.”
His colleague in Government, Noel Dempsey TD, Minister for Education and Science, added: “The delivery of broadband to classrooms around the country will dramatically enhance the undoubted potential that ICT holds to support and enrich the learning process for young students growing up in a media rich digital society.”
By John Kennedy