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Internet Speeds More than Doubled at 500 Schools in Saskatchewan

Internet Speeds More than Doubled at 500 Schools in Saskatchewan

May 13, 2014

Today, the Ministry of Education, together with SaskTel, announced the completion of upgraded CommunityNet Internet speeds for approximately 500 schools across the province.  

CommunityNet is a dedicated, wide-area network delivered by SaskTel that connects executive government, health and education sectors in the province to the Internet.   SaskTel will be investing more than $5 million in capital investments over four years to upgrade CommunityNet. The Ministry of Education will also be providing an additional increase of $2 million annually for operating costs, to ensure faster, and more equitable, internet access for teachers, students, and administrators across the province.

“We are extremely pleased to announce the completion of significant upgrades to CommunityNet that will provide students and teachers across the province with access to the digital tools they need to succeed,” said Education Minister Don Morgan.  “This is the most significant increase in bandwidth access for students since the program’s inception in 2001 and the upgrade provides more than double the speeds at most schools and in some cases up to ten times the speed.”

“SaskTel understands the importance of providing the networks and technology that deliver the bandwidth required for schools to capitalize on online resources,” said Don McMorris, Minister Responsible for SaskTel.  “In addition to this initial investment, SaskTel and the Ministry of Education have also begun consulting with school divisions to determine growing bandwidth needs in the long-term.”

In addition to school divisions experiencing significant improvements in speed, the core network infrastructure has been upgraded to provide enhanced connectivity to the public Internet.  The previous infrastructure carried a limit of redundant 2 Gigabyte circuits.  The new infrastructure will be initially capable of as much as 20 Gbps, and will increase to 40 Gbps by early 2015 as SaskTel continues to upgrade.

Initial feedback from schools has been encouraging.

“The CommunityNet project represents an important step for rural education in Saskatchewan,” said Mike Embury, Principal of École White City School. “In many classrooms, education has become an innovative and collaborative endeavour, and through this ten-fold increase to Internet access, our teachers and students are better able to engage in 21st Century learning.”

“In March, with bandwidth increased from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps, there was a noticeable difference in our ability to use the Internet for research for Science Fair, Heritage Fair, and Oratoricals,” said Jayden Lindholm, a grade 8 student at École White City School. “We are able to upload and download our files and pictures for projects and assignments. Teachers have been able to use streaming video to make their lessons better.”

“We would like to thank the Government of Saskatchewan for taking action on this issue of great importance to the students,” said Logan Christopherson, another grade 8 student at École White City School.

There are more than 1,000 connections to the education network supported by CommunityNet, including: The provincial PreK-12 system, regional colleges, First Nation schools, First Nations University of Canada, and the provincial public library system.

For more information, please contact:

Michelle Englot, SaskTel
Phone: 306-777-4476