The Commonwealth Government is proposing a major initiative, the establishment of a
comprehensive education network service, Education Network Australia (EdNA), which
will deliver educational services and products across the nation and contain the costs of
accessing interactive information networks for education users.  The EdNA initiative
forms part of the overall national strategy announced by the Prime Minister on 6 April
1995 to ensure that Australia is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities offered
by the development of the so called 'information superhighway'.

   At present, the higher education sector makes the most extensive use of computer
networking for educational purposes utilising the Australian Academic and Research
Network (AARNet) for links between universities and the Internet for overseas links.  
Individuals outside universities are also making increasing use of networking, normally
by subscribing to AARNet/Internet.

   Some schools and school systems are in the early stages of experimenting with the
possibilities offered by networking.  However, initiatives are often being undertaken in
isolation, without any awareness of other, closely related activities.

   The Commonwealth Government is proposing a coordinated approach based on the
establishment of a national delivery system for educational services to be known as
Education Network Australia.  The Commonwealth proposes that it, the States and
Territories and other key stakeholders, cooperate to establish a mechanism to manage and
oversee the use of EdNA in broad terms.

   The Commonwealth does not propose to establish a Government owned network
infrastructure for EdNA.  Negotiations with potential providers of the network
infrastructure will be guided by a number of basic principles:

 - The network must offer national coverage.

 - The network must, over time, provide a vehicle for convergence of current educational
   networking initiatives.

 - The network should offer a service to all educational sectors, school, TAFE and higher

 - The network should be fully accessible 

	 - individuals and institutions should be able to access the network at an affordable cost
	   regardless of location.

	 - all mainstream reception infrastructure (eg IBM compatible and Macintosh) should be
	   able to access the network.

 - The network should offer secure communications amongst wide ranging groups of
   users and offer institutional users such as schools the option of controlling access of
   individual users to particular categories of information.

 - The network must provide services such as electronic mail, bulletin boards, and chat

 - The network should provide full access to the Internet, although some institutions
   using the network may wish to be able to limit Internet access in the light of potential for
   access to unsuitable material.

 - The network service must be scalable, ie it must be capable of being upgraded as the
   technology develops.

 - Over time the network should provide services such as interactive voice and video

   At present the Commonwealth is in the information gathering phase of the development
process for a national education network.  Decisions on the major issues under
investigation, such as whether there should be one network service provider or a range of
providers and the identity of the network provider or providers, will be taken following a
tender process.  No steps are likely to be taken to call for tenders to provide services for
EdNA until the second half of 1995.

   As part of the information gathering process, the project team involved in the
development of EdNA has already collected a large amount of data relating to the issue
of national education networks.  If you wish to offer comments and thoughts on this issue
the most convenient method would be to address a message to the DEET Education
Networking Taskforce at [email protected]  Because of resource constraints, the project
team cannot undertake to respond individually to comments offered.  However, all
comments will be carefully examined as part of the process of preparing advice to
Government on this initiative.

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