Optus and NSW Dep. of Education sign $15m contract to improve satellite services

Students in remote areas will soon be able to video conference

Optus will enhance its satellite services to improve services to students in remote areas in a five-year contract worth an estimated $15 million.

The contract with the NSW Department of Education will improve internet connections for services such as two-way video conferencing and interactive media applications for students.

As part of the agreement, Optus will upgrade its existing satellite technology to almost double the satellite bandwidth available to public schools in NSW which are not covered by the Connected Classrooms Program, a $158 million program which was announced in March 2007 to enable students to connect with each other by sharing resources and data collaboration.

The enhanced satellite services will increase upload and download speeds by up to 10 times.

The agreement with Optus and the NSW government is the third major upgrade to telecommunications infrastructure.

“Optus was chosen for the project based on its capacity to deliver a secure, flexible and cost effective two way satellite service that supports educational delivery,” said Adrian Piccoli, NSW minister for education.

“The introduction of the enhanced satellite service will provide our most isolated schools and students with opportunities to connect and collaborate like never before. It will give them a chance to share in the educational benefits of contemporary web-based tools and give us a chance to close the gap that currently exists between the city and the bush.”

A total of 22 schools, six TAFE campuses and 165 homesteads will be covered by the enhanced satellite service under the Department’s distance education program.

The satellites will be upgraded in the coming months, with completion scheduled by October this year.

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