Latvian schools lack high-speed Internet

A quarter of Latvian rural schools still do not have a high-quality high-speed Internet that would help with learning online, Latvian Television reported on July 4.

€2.5 million was found to solve the problem - but that doesn't mean a quick internet in schools will really be available.

Learning content is increasingly developed by including digital solutions. This means that insufficient Internet speed or lack of secure connection will not allow all schools to have equal access to the learning process. The Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (LALRG) surveyed 540 out of 695 schools in the spring. 25% or 121 schools said they did not have access to high-speed Internet.

“There are more than a hundred schools where the  connection of an optical cable is not available,” said Inara Dundure, advisor to the LALRG for Education and Culture. "They use a mobile operator, telephone line or other types that do not provide as secure, stable and fast an Internet as an optical cable."

This situation is most affecting rural schools located in remote areas. In order to address the problem, it is planned to reallocate two and a half million euro of European Union funding. 

However, installation of the cable will not yet provide rural schools with an Internet connection. 

"The biggest problem is the last-mile connection. This means that there are no merchants or others who would be interested in connecting to this school,” Dundure said.

In order to interest merchants to perform these so-called last-mile connections from an optical cable to, for example, a school computer, one of the solutions could be significant discounts or state subsidies to cover cable rentals. Another option - to make amendments to Cabinet regulations, allowing the possibility for the large cable tractor - Latvian Television and Radio Center - to supply the optical cable to the final customer without the intermediation of merchants. At the moment, the rules deny it.

Next week it will be discussed how to encourage entrepreneurs in Latvia to engage in connecting remote rural schools to faster Internet.

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