Net hits floor

15 MARCH 2019

Luke Voogt

Geelong Indy

Frustrations over “snail-paced” internet at Geelong high schools have reached the floor of state parliament. MP Bev McArthur this week called in the Upper House for an end to the “disadvantage" of local schools compared to their counterparts in Melbourne. “The Andrews Government claims that Victoria is The Education State,” the Member for Western Victoria said. “This is impossible when internet speeds are totally inadequate in secondary schools.”

Ms McArthur's call followed local councils alliance body G21 revealing last month that Geelong public schools had NBN download speeds ranging from 12 to 100 megabits a second. In contrast, Geelong private schools had speeds from one to 100 gigabites a second, G21's Elaine Carbines said. The difference was like comparing a “Ferrari” to a “snail”, she said.

Ms McArthur told parliament the public school speeds prevented online activities such as streaming online classes and participating in high-definition video conferencing. She urged the government to adopt the private schools' “ready-made solution” of connecting to not-for-profit provider AARNet.

But Education Minister James Merlino said recent upgrades at Geelong and Surf Coast public schools had lifted minimum bandwidth to 100Mb/s and sometimes 150Mb/s. “In the Geelong area more than 16,000 student computers are being upgraded and all 49 local schools are receiving upgraded wi-fi and virtual conferencing infrastructure.” The investment included 300 upgraded wifi hotspots, 300 new hotspots, and 49 new virtual conferencing systems, he said. Ten Geelong schools would achieve internet speeds the same as their melbourne counterparts under the government's $16.4 million Improving Regional Connectivity initiative, Mr Merlino said.