Every Irish secondary school to get 100Mbps broadband by 2014

6 Feb 2012

By 2014, every secondary school in Ireland will have 100Mbps broadband, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD, and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, TD, said today. The national rollout will see 200 more schools connected by September and a further 450 by 2014.

The programme follows a successful pilot of 78 secondary schools that saw teaching and learning levels improve through digital technology.

The rollout consists of three stages:

  • The first phase of 200 schools will be complete by September 2012.
  • The second phase will be connected in 2013.
  • The final phase of 250 schools will be connected by 2014.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will spend €11m on the overall project, as well as contributing €10m between 2013 and 2015.

The remaining costs of €20m are expected to come from the Department of Education and Science, which will also fund the running costs into the future.

HEAnet has built and will maintain the network on behalf of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) is charged with the integration of ICT within schools. They will also provide frontline support for the staff of the schools.

ESB Telecoms has provided backhaul from regional locations to Dublin.

Digital workforce of the future

Quinn said: “Our secondary schools need industrial-strength broadband. Students’ experience of using technology in their everyday lives must be reflected in their learning experiences in schools. Use of ICT is no longer a separate subject.

“We must encourage students and teachers to integrate the use of ICT with the traditional teaching methods for all subjects. In this way we will prepare the digital workforce of the future,” Quinn said.

“We need to ensure that appropriate digital technology and high-speed internet are in place in our schools as a basic building block to deliver a 21st-century learning experience to all learners.

“This major ICT investment in our education system follows on from the commitment in the Programme for Government to incorporate the integration of ICT in teaching and learning across the curriculum and investing in broadband development to ensure schools have access to modern, high-speed networks,” he added.

The rollout plans were unveiled at Colaiste Bride in Clondalkin, one of the schools involved in the first rollout.

“The opportunity this morning to see how classroom learning can be revolutionised by the availability and adoption of high-speed broadband strengthens my conviction that we are delivering a strategic and worthwhile project that will deliver significant long-term results from both an economic and social perspective.

“Despite our current economic difficulties, this significant investment in our current and future generation of schoolchildren is money well spent,” Rabbitte said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years