Western Australia’s McGowan Government says almost all public schools in the state are to receive bandwidth upgrades.
Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery announced last week the state’s Department of Education had signed a $130 million extension to its telecommunications contract that will see base bandwidth for each of the 350,000 students, teachers and other school staff in WA jump from 100 Kbps to an average of 2 Mbps.
“Student demand to access learning materials online has more than doubled over the past 18 months,” said Minister Ellery. “This agreement means more than 97 per cent of public schools will receive an average bandwidth increase of more than 20 times, with many receiving much higher increases.”
The 3% missing out appear to be very remote schools relying on satellite-based services. However, the McGowan Government will work with these schools to try and improve telecommunications.
An added bonus as part of the program is the upgrading of local exchanges and backhaul capacity – particularly in regional towns – that will also see local community and other government agencies benefiting.
“It will provide modern and immersive learning opportunities for students, and bring equity in bandwidth between metropolitan and regional schools and their communities,” said Minister Ellery.
WA isn’t the only state improving school connectivity. Across the border in South Australia, the Marshall Government announced in June this year it had delivered high speed internet to just about every public school in the state through the SWiFT internet program.
In October, the NSW Government announced a $328 million internet upgrade that will see speeds increase by more than ten times at 2000 public schools across the state and involve the rollout of thousands of kilometres of fibre. At the time of the announcement, NSW Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the rollout would result in NSW public schools having “the fastest internet access for a public education system” in Australia.
A school connectivity survey undertaken by the Tasmanian Education Department in February this year indicated Tasmania was at that point the highest ranked state for school broadband speeds, with around 76 per cent of public schools experiencing speeds greater than 99 Mbps.