47% of Irish Schools get their web connection via crappy Satellite

From the terrace 9
Photo owned by suvodeb (cc)

Where’s the upgrade path to 10Mb Internet there? It’s worse than that though. Only 27% of schools get broadband via a wired service. 26% via wireless. There is no easy way for those schools to get fibre, now is there? I’m glad Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan is thinking about the children and their broadband connection but it seems like he’s considering their situation and then that’s it.

PQ via Liz McManus:

To the Minister for Education and Science
To ask the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools in the broadband for schools initiative that have satellite internet, fibre, DSL and wireless; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Liz McManus. (Nominated by: Liz McManus).

Go to the Oireachtas Website if you want to find the full record, I’m not going to hurt my eyes and hands going through it for you.

Minister of State, Barry Andrews

Of the 3,905 local connectivity installations, 27%, or 1,051 schools have fixed
line services, 26% or 1,028 schools have wireless services and 47% or 1,826
schools have satellite services.
A further 72 schools have had broadband
access provided under the Hermes and Advanced Deployment programmes and are not
included in the 3,905 schools. The split of technology services across these
72 schools is 43 fixed line services, 25 wireless services and 4 satellite
services.

Not great at al now is it? No mention of fibre but that might come under fixed-line. I know there are some schools connected to fibre.

Having regard to the usage levels observed by HEAnet, my Department has
procured additional bandwidth from its two satellite providers to improve the
broadband connection speeds for schools on this portion
of the Schools
Broadband Network. The situation continues to be monitored closely. In
addition, my Department has migrated schools to superior alternative
technologies, where feasible.

I’m unaware of any satellite systems that can increase their bandwidth to anything over 2Mb in this country due to our location on the edge of Europe.

My Department will shortly issue a Request for Tenders for the next round of
service. The priority for the new procurement process will be to ensure that
the broadband services to schools keep in line with national infrastructure
improvements. The RFT will seek tenders which at least maintain the existing
service that schools currently receive.
Having regard to the general
developments in broadband availability nationally, improved service offerings
are expected
to be received under the new tender process.

At least maintain the existing service that schools currently receive? Hello? This already sounds like a cop-out. You’ll read further down they talk about 100megs into schools and now they talk here about at least what the schools have now. For half that means crapalite.

My Department will also collaborate with the Department of Communications,
Energy and Natural Resources to pursue the Government objective of equipping
second-level schools with 100Mb per second
of broadband connectivity and
installing local area networks, as outlined in the Consultation Paper on Next
Generation Broadband.

Got kids in schools? Depressed yet?

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14 Responses to “47% of Irish Schools get their web connection via crappy Satellite”

  1. Joe says:

    The bigger problem is that the schools don’t have enough computers or enough teachers who know what they are doing with IT. What good is braodband in a school where no one will use it because IT is treated as a kind of optional extra in many Irish schools.
    Knowledge Economy ? We are just going to fall further and further behind the rest of the world.

  2. Tom Gleeson says:

    As a brother to a teacher , I’ve been in the position of remote technical support for her school over the years. An although Joe is correct most schools have neither the trained teachers or equipment to fully utilise any type of connection, things are improving due to interactive whiteboards.

    Interactive whiteboards are the ‘killer app’ for IT adoption in the classroom and will lead to demands for better connectivity, (satellite connections during school hours are often worst than dial-up, and that’s on top of the problems caused by high latency).

    My sister has now retired and is keeping busy giving lessons to teachers on the use of these boards. So there’s hope yet.

    Tom

  3. Aidan says:

    and we foot the bill to get a shite satellite connection installed into a school.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Most of these school kids probably have faster connections on their mobiles.

  5. i think thats the one they sold me – yip the one that cost 3,500 yo yos and 350 odd per month rental… :(

  6. What, precisely, do schools do with internet connections?

  7. Dermot says:

    Damien

    got kids in school but not depressed as I’ve a 3meg connection into the house and I can as the kids grow give them their own devices.

    Whats worrying is that we’re creating the equilivant of digital illiteracy – over 20% of the adults in this country are functionally illiterate despite our “world class” education system.

    Technology itself is not the answer there are much deeper problems, the attitude to technology being a key one. In ireland its superfical and vacuous like so much else

  8. The problem with my school is we barely get use of the computers – even during the allotted time. Mainly because the school is too money grabbing and allows Adult Ed spill over into our computer labs. So we end up getting kicked out of our session and put into the shitty computer room with no internet and ancient computers. How do they expect us to complete our LCVP projects?

    They won’t let us use the wireless internet on our laptops for some reason (most of us got pissed off with the current computer labs situation), so we have to get an access password from a teacher (who is bothered about our projects) and work from there. Even then the speed is sub 1MB…even then it frequently crashes.

    Aaron

  9. jbkenn says:

    If you want to see what IS POSSIBLE… visit here, http://www.gaelscoil.com/
    Gaelscoil O Doghair a primary school in Newcastle West Co.Limerick, where all staff and students from 4 years to 12/13 years old have unrestricted access to the internet, no walled gardens, no NCTE filtered content, ready access to Interactive whiteboards, free WIFI via the schools own WIFI hotspot, access to state of the computer technology including netbooks and much, much, more.
    True, we dont have a “knowledge economy”, in fact, the powers that be don’t even know what a knowledge economy is, but thanks to the trailblazing Staff and students of Gaelscoil O Doghair, we will have.
    If any school or teacher is interested, feel free to contact the school.

  10. Luke says:

    Satellite broadband is awful in a school, try and split the bandwidth between 12 computers.

    The entire area of technology in is underfunded. Only 3.5% of schools in Ireland have interactive whiteboards, compared with 70% in the UK and 20% in the USA.

    I blogged this a few months ago, compare us to Northern Ireland.

    Northern Ireland schools receive €75 million annually to spend on school ICT and all principals and teachers are provided with laptops. This is twice what Irish schools are receiving per annum for a quarter of our population. If Irish schools were funded to the same level as Northern Ireland, over €2.1 billion would be invested in ICT for schools over the next seven years. The is a serious shortfall in investment and is damaging any prospect we have of moving our economy to the next level.

    Consider that this was back when schools were promised €254 million for ICT, this funding has now been cut.

  11. duffy says:

    In my school we only get access to the computer room in 1st year and TY at both stages 90% of the time the class will just spend there time playing flash games. As for the network in my school itself is a mess it not managed correctly and premissions are very sloppy. In the last news letter we got sent out we were told they are getting a 100mb connection which personally I think is a total waste they don’t even have 100mb switches. They need to put there time into getting broadband in homes still to this day i cannot receive a 2mb adsl connection to my home

  12. Joe says:

    Duffy,

    That maybe so for your school, but many Irish schools use technology extremely well and will make use of 100Mb/s broadband.

    Your concern over home broadband, this is an issue but now consider that more than 700 secondary schools around the country will be wired for 100Mb/s broadband, so hopefully this speed will also be available to business in the area and maybe even homes, this will depend on who is awarded the tenders. Within 2/3 years 100Mb/s will also be available to primary schools at 3,300 location, opening up good broadband to every village in Ireland.

    Anyway this is a good back way to get broadband around the country to villages. Basically though if you want high speed broadband you should live in an urban area. Most urban ares of Ireland today can receive high speed broadband from UPC (Chorus/NTL), BT and Magnet. All offering over 20Mb/s broadband.

  13. duffy says:

    Joe,
    But surely we shouldn’t have to move house just to get a good connection should we? I mean at the moment we have wimax and we are paying €40 euro for it per month which is a rip off just for broadband but we don’t have any other choice even if we get 1mb adsl we will only get 100kb speeds due to the crappy lines eircom have down. I can’t see why they are willing to spend money on 100Mb/s broadband there is so much better use they could put that money towards.

  14. Joe says:

    Hi Duffy. I get your point. I would love Eircom to invest seriously in their network, and upgrade to VDSL2. But Ireland has a lot of one off housing and it’s not economical for anyone to provide and maintain high speed connections to each one. Hence the urban area response.

    I think of broadband the same as bus routes, not every road has a bus stop, not every home is within walking distance of a bus stop.

    When I move house broadband and transport are the most important things to me. So I take great care to ensure that the local telecoms exchange is unbundled and if possible live where UPC (NTL/Chorus) broadband is available. I just wish they made is easier to check the services.

    The money being spent on 100Mb/s will hopefully enable providers to offer high speed broadband to everyone in villages/towns that have secondary schools.

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