Former telco boss John Hanna to lead Network for Learning.
New Zealand’s 2,600 schools are another step closer to getting safe and affordable ultra-fast internet with the appointment of a chief executive officer, John Hanna, to lead the organisation tasked with making it happen.
In addition to providing internet connectivity, The Network for Learning Limited (N4L), a crown-owned company formed in July 2012, will supply 800,000-plus school learners a range of online content and centrally-procured services, making it the biggest network of its kind in the country.
Mr Hanna, a former telecommunications company CEO with more than 30 years of technology experience, will be responsible for forming the N4L team, which is expected to employ approximately 40 staff across Auckland and Wellington. His official N4L start date is 3 December.
N4L Chair Helen Robinson says the appointment of Mr Hanna is the next step in progressing the company’s mission to use technology as a catalyst for helping improve educational outcomes: “John has the right mix of technology, telecommunications and business acumen to drive the company forward and execute the aggressive strategy the board has developed for this initiative.”
For the three years prior to joining N4L, Mr Hanna was CEO of internet and data centre services provider Maxnet, where in addition to growing and grooming the company for its eventual sale, he observed first-hand how schools can struggle with connectivity issues and technology. He joins N4L following 18 years holding leadership positions within local and multinational technology companies.
As CEO, Mr Hanna will be working with the board and his new team to bring network for learning services to market, including high definition video conferencing, multi-media resources, learning management systems, offsite data backup and storage, and a range of curriculum-enhancing applications which schools can elect to use as part of N4L’s core packaged services or for a minimal cost.
“I am very excited to be involved in something that is going to make such a difference to the growth of New Zealand’s future leaders and businesses” says Mr Hanna. “The more we can empower our children from a digital and knowledge perspective, the more they will have the option to make a difference in the type of businesses that will drive New Zealand forward.”
One of Mr Hanna’s first tasks as CEO will be to announce the retail service providers which successfully tendered for a contract to connect the schools to ultra-fast internet. An announcement is expected before Christmas, and it is anticipated that N4L services will be available to schools by April 2013.
N4L has two shareholding Ministers (Finance and Education), and the government has earmarked $440m for the network service including content and applications. The services will be provided at little or no cost to schools and will run over New Zealand’s ultra-fast broadband (UFB) infrastructure, the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) as well as the other high-speed (ADSL) broadband connections.
Over the next five years, 97 percent of schools will receive UFB connections enabling speeds of 100Mbps-plus. The remaining three percent of schools, which are in the most remote locations, will receive a high-speed wireless or satellite connection.