Education agency to spend $70m on broadband

Vocational Education Broadband Network will offer NBN-like speeds to schools and TAFEs

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) is to spend up to $70 million over the next three years implementing the Vocational Education Broadband Network (VEN).

The VEN was first announced by the prime minister in April 2009 as part of the Australian Government’s Response to the 2020 Summit.

In DEEWR documents, the Department said it was seeking a provider to establish and operate the VEN backbone network.

The backbone network will use existing infrastructure as far as possible and provide interconnections between existing networks serving TAFEs in each state and territory.

It will also be accessed by non-TAFE registered training organisations, school authorities, peering networks and providers of online education and training resources.

According to the DEEWR documents, the objectives of the VEN include providing high-capacity connectivity across Australia, with at least one point-of-presence (PoP) in each state and territory.

The VEN will allow educational institutions to run bandwidth-intensive applications, such as near-high definition video conferencing.

DEEWR said it expected that the initial capacity of the backbone network links will generally not be less than 1 gigabit per second, although lower initial speeds may be acceptable on links to less populous States and Territories, where these would be sufficient to meet expected needs. The DEEWR has announced it would form an Applied ICT in Education Panel to support the development, implementation and evaluation of initiatives that support the use of ICT in education. The panel will provide expert technical advice and analysis and contribute to the development and implementation of initiatives aimed at the effective integration of ICT in education including the Government’s Digital Education Revolution (DER) and VEN initiatives.

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