SA Gov to acquire new satellite services for remote learning

Will provide School Of The Air students in central Australia with cheaper, more reliable broadband access

School children living and studying in remote areas of central Australia could soon get more affordable and reliable Internet services under a new plan by the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS).

The plan sees the DECS turning to a managed services provider to deliver satellite-based internet services to about 80 students in 45 remote locations which receive an education via the School Of The Air (SOTA).

The SOTA provides an educational service for about 120 children living on properties or settlements covering over one million square kilometres of central Australia.

Currently these students use a commercial carrier satellite Internet service, in part paid for through a subsidy provided by the DECS, however, the services are current services and are expensive and not always reliable, according to departmental documents.

“As a consequence, DECS is investigating the option of managed services to deliver better quality of services to these students,” the documents read. “To achieve this, DECS is seeking to understand the services available and their costs, and if appropriate, to undertake a proof of concept pilot to validate the opportunity.”

The pilot will run for up to three months, and if successful, could see the cost of the new services born by students or a partial subsidy from the DECS.

According to the Alice Springs branch of the SOTA, radio was the backbone of communication technologies from the commencement of school operations in 1951 up until 2004.

From 2004 the school has made extensive use of satellite technology which has allowed for the creation of interactive distance learning which allows students to see and hear their teachers and other students in real time.

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