Getting connected to fibre

Do schools need to register to receive ultra-fast broadband access?

No. State and state-integrated schools will automatically receive a fully-funded connection from their school to the fibre being rolled out in their area, and there is no need to enrol.

Independent schools will need to fund their own fibre connection. However this is likely to be more cost-effective when undertaken as part of the wider roll out. The Ministry of Education will be progressively contacting independent schools to confirm their interest in receiving a fibre connection before fibre is rolled out in their area

When will my school receive fibre?

The roll out of fibre to schools is expected to be completed by 2016. The Ministry of Education has no control over the negotiations, which schools are covered under each contract, or when each school will be connected.

The agencies overseeing the negotiations – Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) – have advised that once a provider is selected for each region, they will then identify the most logical order in which to deploy fibre to schools within their region.

Schools can check their provider and connection timeframe here:

If your school has not been contacted by the Ministry of Education, it is most likely that we have not been given a timeframe for your connection at this stage.

Your school will be connected sometime before the end of 2016. The roll out schedule is determined by what the provider has assessed is the most logical and cost-effective way to roll out fibre in your area. The Ministry of Education does not control the roll out schedule or the order in which schools are connected. We will contact you directly as soon as more information on the situation for your school is available.

Which schools are defined as ‘urban’ and which are ‘rural’?

The Government’s ultra-fast broadband strategy has identified 33 "candidate areas" that contain populations greater than 9,500 people (the smallest of these being Greymouth). Schools in these areas are defined as urban and are likely to be connected to fibre via the UFB (Ultra Fast Broadband) initiative.

97.7 per cent of schools (99 per cent of students) will have ultra-fast broadband access by 2016 via the urban Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiatives (RBI). The remaining 2.3 per cent of schools in remote locations will have improved broadband services via terrestrial wireless and three schools will receive satellite services.

The boundaries between rural and urban are subject to negotiation between the government and the various parties responding to the tenders.

Why are neighbouring schools getting fibre and my school isn’t yet?

There will be some situations where schools in close proximity to each other will be covered by different phases of the broadband roll out.

The initiative your school is covered under is not necessarily an indication of the timeframe in which you will receive your fibre drop (when a school gets its own connection to the fibre in the street).

Fibre runs right past our gate – why do we have to wait to get our fibre drop?

The deployment schedules are determined by what the providers decide is the most efficient and cost effective way to roll out fibre to the community. This is a very complex project where the final roll out schedule for each area is determined by what the provider decides is the most efficient and cost effective way to roll out fibre to the community.

Can you please prioritise our school or speed up the process of roll out? 

The Ministry of Education does not control which schools fall inside or outside the coverage areas being negotiated, the fibre deployment route or the order in which schools receive their fibre connection. This is being managed by Ministry of Economic Development (MED)/Crown Fibre Holdings Ltd (CFH). The Ministry’s role is to provide schools with the latest information as it becomes available, in order to inform their decision making. We are working closely with MED and CFH to ensure there is good communication between the three agencies.

Our school is connected to fibre. What happens next?

Building the physical fibre network is only the first step towards ultra-fast broadband access. Providers have to agree to use the network, and then develop fibre-enabled products and services to run over it. In turn, those services need to be tested to make sure they work. When retailers are ready, they will promote their products and services to customers, including schools.

Many schools have already received a connection but do not yet have ultra-fast broadband services, as no retail service provider is available in their area.

To resolve this problem the Government has recently approved the development of the Network for Learning. The Network for Learning, available progressively from 2013, will provide schools with affordable, safe, ultra-fast internet access as well as a range of online content and centrally-procured services.

To ensure schools are able to take up the Network for Learning offer, the Ministry has been advising schools to negotiate short-term ultra-fast broadband contracts of no longer than one to two years.

The Ministry has developed guidelines to help schools choose a retail service provider, as well as listing retail service providers that have offers available for schools. This information is available on the Enabling eLearning website.

What fibre connection speed will schools need?

Ultra-fast broadband will provide connections speeds of up to 100Mbps. This will meet the majority of schools’ needs over the next few years.

Although the basic fibre connections provided will be capable of 100Mbps, some schools may opt for a lower bandwidth service over their connection initially, to ensure they are only paying for what they need.

On the other hand, some schools may need 1GB connections, which can be requested at the time of signing up with a Retail Service Provider, for an additional fee that the school will have to pay.

Will schools’ broadband speeds be noticeably faster over fibre?

In most cases, schools should certainly notice the difference. However the speeds schools experience will depend on several factors including whether their traffic is local or international and the service they’ve purchased. Speed and capacity may also be limited by the quality of schools’ internal networks, if they haven’t been through the SNUP process.

Does having fibre installed mean schools can’t continue to use their existing, copper connection?

No. Schools can continue to use their existing service if/until they choose to use the fibre. The copper infrastructure won’t be removed as part of this or any other planned activity.

Is there likely to be a limit to how much data schools can download/upload over fibre?

Most internet service providers do impose data caps to enable a set rate to be offered.

Schools will need to check and if necessary negotiate appropriate caps with their chosen internet service provider before signing any agreements.

What if schools are happy with their current broadband connection?

The fully-funded fibre drop should still proceed to ensure schools can benefit from the improved speeds offered by ultra-fast broadband access at a later date, and to be able to take advantage of the Network for Learning when it becomes available mid-2013.

However, if schools feel their existing broadband service is adequate for their needs over the next few years, they don’t have to switch to using fibre immediately.

Content last updated: 23 August 2012