HEAnet first began connecting schools to the HEAnet backbone in 2005 on foot of HEAnet being appointed as network managers of a centralised Schools Network under the Department of Education & Skills Broadband for Schools Programme.
Connecting schools to the HEAnet network represents a significant milestone in HEAnet’s history and serves to leverage public investment in the higher education network for the benefit of first and second-level schools.
As such, Ireland’s 4,000 (approx.) primary and post-primary schools have relied on HEAnet connectivity and services since 2005.
In addition to Internet connectivity, HEAnet also provide Irish schools with a range of other essential services including:
- managed school router
- security & filtering of content
- IP address allocation
- proactive network management
- website hosting
- blog hosting
Broadband services to individual schools are managed in co-operation with a variety of Access Providers who provide the local ‘last mile’ connectivity to individual schools and then subsequently interconnect these connections with the HEAnet backbone network.
The Broadband for Schools Programme, now in its third procurement phase, has consistently delivered improved broadband levels to Irish schools. Services under this programme are funded by the Department of Education & Skills.
In 2009, under a separate initiative pioneered by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, HEAnet were appointed to design, build and manage a new high-speed broadband network designed to provide Ireland’s 750 (approx.) post-primary schools with 100 Mbit/s symmetrical broadband. Again, the appointment of HEAnet in this regard serves to further leverage public investment in HEAnet network infrastructure while also leveraging HEAnet’s experience and expertise in providing broadband services to schools since 2005.
In early 2010, under a first pilot phase of the Schools 100 Mbits/High-Speed Network Programme, a first tranche of 78 schools nationwide were provided with 100 Mbit/s broadband. Subsequently, following a Government announcement in February 2012 extending the programme to all post-primary schools, HEAnet connected a further 200 schools over the course of 2012 followed by 230 schools in 2013. The remaining 270 post-primary schools were connected in 2014.
Services under the Schools 100 Mbit/s High-Speed Programme are co-funded by the Department of Education & Skills and the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, supported by Ireland’s EU Structural Funds Programme and the European Regional Development Fund.
The provision of high-speed broadband to Ireland’s post-primary schools affords schools greater opportunity to embed technology in the teaching and learning process.
The advent of high-speed broadband opens the door to a faster, richer, more interactive and more informative Internet experience than was possible heretofore on lesser broadband capacities. Streaming of videos, plays, movies, animation, documentaries, concerts and so forth can now be seamlessly incorporated into the teaching day. Online interactivity and online collaboration can now be viewed as an integral part of a blended learning approach. In essence, the provision of high-speed connectivity represents a catalyst for a new ICT strategy both at national and local school level.
Moreover, investment in schools broadband represents a strategic investment in the digital citizens that will shape Ireland’s future economic prosperity, and HEAnet are proud to be associated with its delivery.