As of October 2008, 3,905 schools have been provided with broadband connectivity under the schools broadband access programme. As the Deputy will be aware, this programme is being undertaken in partnership with industry in the context of a Government-IBEC-Telecommunications and Internet Federation, TIF, agreement to provide local broadband connectivity to schools. The programme has three elements, namely, local connectivity to schools, a national broadband network and a broadband support service desk. Schools connectivity is being routed to the Internet through a national broadband network, which is supported by HEAnet and provides centrally managed services for schools such as security, anti-spam, anti-virus and content filtering.
Turning to the specific question, of the 3,905 local connectivity installations, 27% or 1,051 schools, have fixed line services, 26% or 1,028 schools, have wireless services and 47% or 1,826 schools, have satellite services. A further 72 schools have had broadband access provided under the Hermes and advanced deployment programmes and are not included in the 3,905 schools. The split of technology services across these 72 schools is 43 fixed line services, 25 wireless services and four satellite services.
Having regard to the usage levels observed by HEAnet, the Department has procured additional bandwidth from its two satellite providers to improve the broadband connection speeds for schools on this portion of the schools broadband network. The situation continues to be monitored closely. In addition, the Department has migrated schools to superior alternative technologies, where feasible.
The Department will issue shortly a request for tenders, RFT, for the next round of service. The priority for the new procurement process will be to ensure the broadband services to schools keep in line with national infrastructure improvements. The RFT will seek tenders which at least maintain the existing service that schools currently receive. Having regard to the general developments in broadband availability nationally, improved service offerings are expected to be received under the new tender process.
The Department also will collaborate with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to pursue the Government objective of equipping second level schools with 100 megabytes per second of broadband connectivity and installing local area networks, as outlined in the consultation paper on next generation broadband.