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Broadband for education: Commercial realities for the education sector

A workshop presentation by

Chris Roberts
Product Manager, Request Saise

The education sector is a major user of telecommunications. The demand for faster data speeds is increasing as multimedia applications are developed requiring increased bandwidth. Teachers and students now require the capacity to download large files and tertiary institutions are increasingly aware of the audio and video conferencing resources that are on offer. These are particularly relevant for educational institutes in remote locations.

Broadband technologies are explained and the differences between these and traditional telecommunications technologies are highlighted. Most schools are still connected to the Internet with no more than 64 kb/s of bandwidth. The impacts of broadband on the education environment are compared to the ways schools are currently connecting to the Internet. The drivers for the adoption of broadband include the need to upgrade data services, price, scalability and coverage. There is still an erroneous perception that high speed Internet solutions are not available in remote areas. Independent schools incur 55% of telecommunications expenditure for voice services (telephone, fax lines, and equipment), but data services costs are relatively low. For a typical independent school access and local calls account for 34% of costs with Internet costs making up 16% of the total telecommunications spend.

There are many benefits to be gained from the implementation of a broadband solution. Broadband delivers costs savings when compared to ISDN and dialup modem solutions. There are productivity gains due to higher speed access to the Internet and therefore faster downloading of large volume files. The user experience is enhanced through the availability of more concurrent connections and service delivery is improved due to a reduction in dropouts and slowdowns. However, not all broadband implementations are the same. The different broadband services available in the Australian market are compared and contrasted. Broadband is a premium connection technology for organisations and will remain so in the future.

Please cite as: Roberts, C. (2002). Broadband for education: Commercial realities for the education sector. In S. McNamara and E. Stacey (Eds), Untangling the Web: Establishing Learning Links. Proceedings ASET Conference 2002. Melbourne, 7-10 July.

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