UFB blows students away with its speed

KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 05:00 25/08/2012

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Southland Girls' High School has been "blazing the trail" when it comes to tapping into ultrafast broadband, with staff and students embracing the speedy technology early.

Venture Southland technical advisor and deputy principal of Northern Southland College Wayne Duncan said a few schools in the region already had fibre to the school, but Girls' High was the first school to use it.

"They have been blazing the trail for the rest of Southland schools," Mr Duncan said.

Girls' High principal Yvonne Browning said "the perfect storm" inspired them to hook into the service when they did.

They found out the fibre cables were going past the school to the University of Otago campus, the infrastructure inside the school was being "SNUPped" (Schools Network Upgrade), and they had major frustrations at the lack of reliable internet, Mrs Browning said.

It had taken several months but the school was now connected to an uncapped data plan which charged a flat rate. The school was paying about $1250 per month, which included a connection fee paid to Power Net, Mrs Browning said. This was half of what they had expected to pay, and $450 more than they had been paying for the old connection.

The ultrafast broadband was better quality and more reliable, and allowed students to connect globally as well as hooking in to national learning networks, she said. "[Previously] there was a lot of time lost waiting, now there is no waiting. It has sped up aspects of the learning . . . and given them the ability to explore," she said.

"This is significant for the province."

The technology meant a school's location would not impact their connections with the rest of the world and "rural isolation" would not be an issue, she said.

Northern Southland College principal John Mattisson said the technology was significant for education.

"This is the big leap forward."

The Lumsden school would be using ultrafast broadband within the next two weeks.

Under the government's Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative schools, hospitals and 90 per cent of businesses will be connected by 2015. Homes and the remaining 10 per cent of businesses will be connected by 2019.

Internet provider SNAP last week announced ultrafast broadband education plans with uncapped data and a per-student pricing model. The plans also included access to REANNZ (Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand), a network provider used by schools.

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