School board to gain speed in Internet race

As the town and local businesses race for high-speed Internet access, the Rainy River District School Board has taken the bull by the horns and invested in its own infrastructure.
Over the weekend, a 120-foot communications tower was erected at Robert Moore School here with Northwest ConX. Along with towers in Devlin and Emo, the school board’s own T1, and additional caching applications, schools throughout the district can expect high-speed Internet access early next year.
“Getting high-speed access is so students have Internet opportunity is all,” said Warren Hoshizaki, director of education for the Rainy River District School Board.
“It’s just another medium, or tool, and it brings equal opportunity with other students in the province,” he added.
After purchasing a T1 and paying the $5,000-a-month costs, the school board’s administrative offices, Robert Moore School, Fort Frances High School, and J.W. Walker School have had high speed access through HDSL lines from Thunder Bay provider Air Communications.
Now, with the new tower at Robert Moore and a 75-foot one at both Crossroads in Devlin and Donald Young in Emo, all the board’s schools should have wireless Internet access next spring.
In June, 2000, the school board put out a request for proposal for a provider to establish the necessary local infrastructure but none responded.
As a result, the board sought private and public-sector partnerships to deliver the service, and established the Wide Area Network Project with Northwest ConX and the Northwest Catholic District School Board this past June.
“The Rainy River District School Board trustees have made a significant investment in technology over the past three years,” said Hoshizaki.
Northwest ConX has contracted Thunder Bay company, Tower Light Ltd., to build the towers, which will provide the two school boards with local access to the OC3 being established with government funding to link Northwestern Ontario communities to Thunder Bay in 2002.