Since Internode connected it to the NBN last month, the evangelical Christian school at Smithton has seen massive increases in its Internet access speeds. This improved performance opens up the potential for students to use videoconferencing as well as the introduction of "virtual classroom" technology.
Circular Head Christian School Principal Patrick Bakes said the NBN fibre-optic service meant that staff and students were no longer limited by the Internet connection during peak times. "We can have up to 150 students on the Internet at once, which our NBN connection handles with ease," he said.
"We have conducted some test high-definition videoconferencing trials, and this is not hampered at all by general use of the Internet connection. We’re also exploring the use of videoconferencing between our students and other parties, such as specialist educators located interstate or overseas."
Mr. Bakes said the school was also examining videoconferencing as a way to deliver subjects between the Christian schools in Tasmania. "The issue has been the quality of videoconferencing, especially the lack of real-time delivery," he said.
"Improving this makes the possibility of virtual online classrooms much more feasible which is something we want to get involved in. We are also developing the use of interactive whiteboards throughout the school and improved Internet access makes the potential use of these devices greater."
"Our new Science Centre and the upcoming Trade Centre focussed on primary industries will also benefit from improved Internet access and faster speeds in terms of the types of information that can be downloaded and virtual links with RTOs (Registered Training Organisations) and industry."
Founded in 1985 with 20 students, Circular Head Christian School serves families through the provision of Christ-centred education. The co-educational K-12 school currently has 387 students. The school is located on eight hectares at Smithton, the main town of the Circular Head rural municipality, a region of about 8500 people in the far north-west corner of Tasmania.
Before Internode connected Circular Head Christian School to the NBN, it relied on two ADSL2+ Internet links: Although those links reported speeds of 13 megabits per second (Mb/s) downstream and 1Mb/s upstream, actual traffic throughput never reached those speeds. Since the fibre service came online, the school has cut off one of its Internet connections as the fibre is suitable for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services. The other ADSL2+ Internet link is retained for redundancy.
Mr. Bakes said Circular Head Christian School had chosen Internode because of its flexible contract. "Internode's pricing is also quite competitive, substantially cheaper than we were previously paying," he said. "Internode has been most helpful in resolving all our questions and has been excellent in fulfilling our requirements."