Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fibre to the gate is only half the story. How about affordable high-speed Internet?

Access to the Internet appears to be one of the key sticking points for those students who are based in the lowest socio-economic communities. While this factor seems to be pretty logical, maybe it is less obvious that low decile schools and/or small rural schools would also struggle to access affordable high-speed Internet. Rachel Roberts comments "I know there are lots of issues around equity and access for RBI though I had never considered decile rating to be part of the digital divide ...", and shares Cost bar keeps fibre dream out of classrooms(written by Kirsty Johnston).

English: Internet Penetration (% Population). ... 
Internet Penetration (% Population). Red indicates no statistics available. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of highlights from Kirsty's post include:
Schools in underprivileged areas are struggling to benefit from the Government's ultra-fast broadband scheme, with high prices and unfair distribution creating a rich and poor “digital divide”, Labour says. Figures show the scheme remains behind schedule, with 176 schools connected to the fibre but only eight actually using the high-speed internet Figures show there was a relatively even split between schools in rich and poor areas getting high-speed internet access. For example, there were about 45 decile one schools in the rollout so far, and 58 decile 10 schools. Wall said decile 1-3 schools should have been a priority. “Strategically, they are depriving children who live in communities like mine. The parents of my kids are more worried about putting bread and butter on the table than having internet.” (source)
So - what's the solution? What have your experiences been? Ideas?

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