School District 43 students will have faster internet connections after the board of education approved financing for phase one of a plan to link Tri-City high schools to Coquitlam's QNet fibre optic utility.
Work is expected to begin this winter for the first phase of the $900,000, five-year project to connect eight secondary schools in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody to SD43's board offices. The secondary schools will serve as network hubs for future connections with middle and elementary schools.
"Having a robust and reliable network is critical for the district to meet the current and future needs of students and staff through the use of online digital services," said board chair and Port Moody trustee Melissa Hyndes. "This network is essential to removing barriers as the district implements its 'Learning Without Boundaries' educational vision."
The board is still defining its Learning Without Boundaries educational vision but the goal is to enable students to customize their learning. The district has previously noted slow internet connections have made it difficult for schools to incorporate internet resources into educational programs.
In addition to providing fibre optic connections, the $900,000 funding project approved in May will also include new monitoring tools to block inappropriate content and improve internet performance.
The work to connect schools to fibre will begin this winter with engineering, permits and preparation. It will involve blowing fibre into plastic conduit laid in 10-inch trenches or drilled into holes along major highways and roads from Port Moody to Port Coquitlam through central Coquitlam. The goal is to have high-speed internet to high schools in the next school year.
"Fibre optics is the highway of the future and by utilizing it, the school district will ensure that schools have adequate network capacity to meet the educational needs of students and teachers, as well as the business needs of support staff and administrators," said Peter Steblin, QNet Board chair and Coquitlam's city manager.
QNet is a municipal corporation wholly owned by the city of Coquitlam and financed through fibre leasing revenue. QNet's primary goal is to enhance competition in the delivery of high-speed telecommunications services in Coquitlam.