Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Recognizing the Internet’s educational potential, schools have scrambled to get wired. Now a Canadian group has come up with a clever and affordable strategy to bring broadband Internet connections to whole school districts. Eventually, the initiative could help extend high-speed fiber-optic links to homes as well.

The scheme is the brainchild of Bill St. Arnaud, senior director for network projects at an Ottawa-based Internet consortium of companies and universities called CANARIE. The key, says St. Arnaud, lies in using high-speed versions of the Ethernet format originally developed for local-area networks to transmit signals over fiber from a central location to each school. That way, the costly equipment used to convert broadband transmissions from the Internet into a form suitable for local computers is required only at one site; from there fibers carry the Ethernet signal to inexpensive hubs in each school.

Using Ethernet, one district linked 70 schools and a dozen other buildings. The system cost almost $1 million, but the district now shares ownership of it with four local companies who paid half the bill for a cut of the network capacity. Had the district instead used digital subscriber lines, for example, it would have spent close to $1 million for just three years of service.

Soon, schools or other buildings could be jumping-off points for affordable neighborhood broadband access. Indeed, a handful of companies, including World Wide Packets and Western Integrated Networks, are adapting the CANARIE approach to extend high-speed Ethernet services all the way to homes over optical fibers.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Communications

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me