Minister Ring announces innovative project to provide broadband to disadvantaged students
Collaborative project involves Department and Libraries working with Microsoft Ireland to explore the use of Airband technology
Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, today (Thursday, 25 June) launched an exploratory initiative in partnership with Microsoft Ireland and the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) that will seek to deliver free broadband to second-level students from disadvantaged backgrounds for the duration of their senior cycle.
The initiative will look to use the existing high-speed broadband connection in five public libraries across five counties (Carlow, Donegal, Kilkenny, Mayo and Waterford), to deploy Microsoft’s cutting-edge Rural Airband technology to enable broadband to be delivered to up to 200 households – roughly 40 per county – which do not have good internet access.
The trial initiative will be targeted primarily at students in Delivering Equality of Opportunity (DEIS) schools.
Announcing the initiative, Minister Ring said:
“This initiative is an example of the kind of innovative solutions that can be explored when Government, Local Government and industry work collaboratively to address connectivity and other barriers experienced by disadvantaged communities across rural Ireland.
“Under this initiative, my Department has partnered with Microsoft Ireland, Local Government and others, to ensure that many students for whom vital internet services is unavailable in the home have the opportunity to compete on a level digital playing field and succeed.
“This pilot initiative will use the public library network to deploy Microsoft Airband technology in under-served areas, in order to address connectivity barriers experienced by Leaving Certificate cycle students. In drawing on the existing high-speed broadband connection of libraries, the initiative offers an opportunity to target individuals for whom internet service is currently unavailable in the home.
“This initiative will seek to offer more students the opportunity to avail of a range of distance learning activities, such as online learning and virtual classrooms, which are becoming an integral part of education provision in an increasingly digital age.”