Better connectivity to close digital divide

Fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity is being delivered as part of a multi-million dollar infrastructure upgrade of rural and remote schools which is helping close the digital divide with their metro counterparts.

The initiative is delivering one of the major targets of the Rural Access Gap program – network connectivity of 5 Mbps per student in 1,000-plus Rural Access Gap schools.

It includes application of the Internet@Edge solution (content filtering and network security), improved school network connectivity (Wi-Fi), and major infrastructure upgrades from Telstra.

Snapshot

  • Infrastructure upgrades have been completed by Telstra at 991 Rural Access Gap schools (May 2022).

  • The Internet@Edge solution has been applied to 960 Rural Access Gap schools (May 2022).

  • Internet speeds will increase more than tenfold.

  • It is part of a $328 million partnership between the NSW Government and Telstra to upgrade connectivity to all mainland NSW schools.

Quality connection for all students

The upgrades are providing students access to strong, reliable internet connection especially those in rural and remote schools. It ensures the opportunities afforded by quality connectivity are available to all students regardless of location.

As a result of work already done, some of the state's most remote schools no longer need to rely on constrained satellite internet.

Reliable connections and larger bandwidths are providing a platform for more engaged personalised learning for students, and allow easier lesson planning, collaboration, video conferencing, and professional development for teachers.

The target of 5 Mbps per student is also a key deliverable of the program.

While the department is enhancing internet access across NSW, this will have a significant impact in reducing the digital divide between rural and remote schools and their metro counterparts.

The upgrade rollout has had its challenges and there was no one-size-fits-all solution.

A small number of schools categorised as ‘very remote’ were upgraded using alternative technology including complex radio solutions coupled with buried and overhead optic fibre connections.

The first of those ‘remote’ upgrades was completed in March 2021 at Booligal Public School north of Hay in the state’s west delivering higher speeds to students and teachers.

All ‘very remote’ schools were expected to be upgraded and enabled with Internet@Edge.

Learn more

For more information, email schoolsdigitalstrategy@det.nsw.edu.au.

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