Most of us who have traveled throughout the Pacific Islands know that it is truly a tropical paradise, with beaches, surf, and unexplored beauty. Definitely worth a visit!!
However, not many people realize that irrespective of the natural serenity, a number of these islands do not have any form of technology, whether it is telephony or broadband Internet, unless they use some type of satellite service.
The Church has a mixture of elementary, middle, and secondary schools in the Pacific area that rely greatly on technology. In fact, there has been a greater push and need for delivering education via technology than ever before.
In order to provide cost-effective methods of communication, we have endeavored to work more closely with the local telecommunications companies to come up with solutions that can improve the infrastructure to and within our schools.
I would like to mention a few cool things that we have done with the assistance of the telco’s:
First, the Church College of Savaii (Vaiola), a high school of about 348 students on the island of Savaii in Samoa, had never had Internet access until recently. We now have a dedicated E1 circuit, via a wireless WiMax point-to-point service. This circuit comes from the main island of Upolu to the island of Savaii, approximately 20 km. This connection provides high-speed Internet as well as the means of having an ISDN telephony solution.
Second is the Liahona High School on the main island of Tongatapu in Tonga, which has about 1,300 students and also happens to be a shared-services facility. The high school was the recipient of the first official site outside the telco in Tonga to have a primary rate interface (PRI) on an integrated services digital network (ISDN), enabling greater functionality for voice and data services, on a digital PBX.
These forms of technology are not by any means bleeding technology in the world, but they are standards which have not been available there before.
This technology has and will continue to help with the education and communication of these remote schools in the Pacific.
In essence we are pioneering technology to help the people of Polynesia.
David Virdis is a field program manager for the Church.