Broadband ‘paying off in schools but challenges remain’

High-speed broadband is paying off for teaching and learning in second-level schools – but teachers and students still face many challenges around the use of computers in the classroom.

A new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) highlights how Irish education still has a way to go to integrate technology into daily school life.

According to the report there are a “number of persistent challenges that are likely to hinder further progress”, including the need for more investment in infrastructure, better technical support and more teacher training.

It says classroom usage of the new technologies varies considerably across schools and is heavily influenced by the support offered by school leadership.

Researchers looked at the experience of 400 second-level schools, with an in-depth study of 10 schools, after they had received the reliable internet connection through the Schools 100Mbps Project.

The report put a particular focus on the views of students, which tend to be largely absent from studies about the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in education.

Catch the full article here in the Irish Independant
– Copyright Katherine Donnelly

Google Fiber confirms roll-out stop, CEO Barratt leaves

Google has confirmed a slowdown in the development of its fibre broadband roll-out in the US while it considers alternative access technologies.

The company said it will continue the roll-out in cities where it’s already operating or started deployment, but talks in other places on its longer list of potential coverage areas will stop.

Google said the break is needed to “refine its approach” and “stay ahead of the curve — pushing the boundaries of technology, business, and policy”. Without providing many details, the company said its revised plan “enhances our focus on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast internet more abundant than it is today”.

It also means the resignation of Craig Barratt, who has headed the fibre activities as CEO of Access at Alphabet. Google did not comment on his successor. Barratt delivered the news in a blog post, saying the fibre business is “solid” and continues to grow customers and revenues quickly.

Catch the full article here in the Telecompaper
– Copyright Telecompaper

Vodafone to hike broadband prices

Householders who have broadband from Vodafone are being hit with price hikes.

The telecoms giant is increasing prices by up to €84 a year.
And it is ending some of its older mobile phone plan deals.

The company confirmed that broadband prices are rising by between €5 and €7 a month from the first day of November. One frustrated customer explained that his ‘Simply Broadband’ deal with the telecoms company will go from €38 a month to €45. “That is just under a 20pc increase to the price I agreed to 10 months ago when I signed a 12-month contract,” he said.

In a statement, the company said: “This adjustment is in response to increased operational costs, primarily due to the rise in wholesale prices.”

It added that the price of its recently added TV, broadband, home and mobile package will not be affected by the increase.

Catch the full article here in the Irish Independant
– Copyright Charles Weston

Further wait for rural broadband rollout

The delayed National Broadband Plan could face further rollout setbacks as one million homes and businesses are left waiting, Communications Minister Denis Naughten has admitted.

Mr Naughten said building may now not start until late 2017, almost a year after the project was due to kick off. The scheme was set to begin next June after a previous delay of six months was announced. However, almost one million homes and businesses may have to wait longer to see the project get under way.

“We will hopefully be rolling out the contract in the second half of next year,” said Mr Naughten.

“We hope at the end of next year that you will be able to put your Eircode into our website and you will know when you’re getting your broadband.”

A further delay in starting a buildout of the broadband scheme could see some homes and businesses waiting until 2023 to see modern communications systems arrive in their areas. By then, Ireland’s broadband infrastructure may be out of date, with a new push by the European Union to set 100Mbs as a continent-wide standard, over three times the 30Mbs speed being promised by the Government under the current plan.

Under the National Broadband Plan, 927,000 homes and businesses in rural areas and on the fringes of towns are to receive a broadband connection of at least 30Mbs.

Catch the full article here in the Irish Independant
– Copyright Adrian Weckler and Paul Melia

Coding may be introduced in primary schools

Coding may be introduced in primary schools.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has been asked to consider how to introduce the teaching of coding in primary schools by Minister for Education Richard Bruton.

The council is currently reviewing the primary school syllabus and is developing a new primary maths curriculum.

In a letter to the NCCA, Mr Bruton has requested that particular consideration be given to ensuring that children have an opportunity to develop the flexible and creative thinking skills that are the basis of computer science and coding.

The NCCA is working on a new maths curriculum for primary schools and it hopes to introduce a draft version by next spring.

Catch the full article here on the RTE Mobile – RTE Mobile
– Copyright RTE Mobile

Alphabet changes focus of high-speed internet to wireless

Google Fiber puts fibre projects on hold while turning attention to wireless technology.

Alphabet is switching the focus of its high-speed internet plans to wireless technology, in order to accelerate a project to improve connections across the US that has taken six years to reach just six cities.

Google Fiber, Alphabet’s fibre-to-the-premises service in the United States is turning its attention to wireless, which requires less expensive and time-consuming construction work, and putting fibre projects on pause in Portland, Oregon, and San Jose in Silicon Valley. It is also changing its broadband strategy in the newest cities to join the programme.

The move comes after the company in June acquired Webpass, a wireless provider that operates in five major markets in the US including the Bay Area, California, and Chicago. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, was designed to help Google reach more cities more quickly.

Catch the full article here on the Irish Times –
– Copyright Financial Times Service 2016

Boost for South East Broadband Blackspots

Wexford’s broadband black spots will no longer have to wait for High Speed Broadband, that’s according to Imagine.

They’ve announced the first 210 town lands in the county, that have been waiting for high speed broadband, will be connected to Imagine’s New National LTE Fibre Network.

Speaking of the announcement Brian O’Donohoe, Commercial Director of Imagine said

“LTE is a game changer in delivering high speed broadband service to Regional and Rural Ireland. In Australia, Germany, France, China and Japan LTE is used as an alternative or to replace existing copper lines to deliver NGA broadband services and is the quickest and most efficient way to meet the demand and need in Rural and Regional Ireland.”

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Rural communities need broadband now, say Cllrs

It’s unacceptable that there is no broadband in the village of Castletown Geoghegan and other rural communities, a Westmeath county councillor says.

Speaking at the April meeting of the Mullingar Municipal District, Fine Gael’s Cllr Andrew Duncan said that the lack of adequate broadband coverage is a “massive issue” in the affected communities.

Cllr Una D’Arcy said that the provision of adequate broadband is as important to today’s rural communities as the electrification programme was in the past.

The lack of adequate broadband in many parts of north Westmeath is preventing many small businesses from expanding, she said.

Catch the full article here on the –

Slower broadband and lack of job opportunities frustrate rural dwellers.

Aspects of life that frustrate rural dwellers are slower broadband (63%) and a lack of job opportunities (45%), according to research by Macra na Feirme for its ‘Know Your Neighbour’ campaign.

The campaign, which is in partnership with Calor, aims to bring everyone together at community events, to get to know these neighbours and establish a strong support network, Macra President Sean Finan has said.

A lack of amenities (59%) and a lack of local infrastructure (48%) are also among the grievances of rural dwellers. Read more

State may need to extend National Broadband Plan

Up to 80,000 homes unable to connect to broadband networks without costly interventions.

The Government may be forced to extend the reach of its broadband scheme because of the large number of homes being left with sub-standard services in areas supplied by commercial operators.

Sources suggest up to 80,000 homes, not included in the National Broadband Plan (NBP), cannot be connected to broadband networks in their areas for a variety of reasons without costly interventions.

The crux of the issue lies in the difference between “premises passed” by the new technology, the phrase industry uses, and those that can be connected to it, the threshold the Government insists upon.

Companies usually run their new fibre technologies to a cabinet at street level, but not all homes can access the cabinet, either because of geography or because their original copper connections have degraded.


Catch the full article here on the Irish Times –

Article by Eoin Burke Kennedy