Although the formal SchoolSat project has now concluded, the service is still operational in the schools which took part in the project. This was made possible through the contribution of NCTE and evaluation of the use being made by teachers and pupils continued until the end of May 2003. Efforts are now being made to secure funding to ensure continuity of the service for the next academic year.
Meanwhile the final report has been submitted to ESA, which includes the report on the pedagogical value of such a service as carried out by Dr. Aidan Mulkeen from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. This report describes the main activities and outcomes from the project and broadly concludes that the service is of great benefit to schools particularly those in rural communities where opportunities for broadband access via means other than satellite are scarce. It also shows that putting in place a satellite service for schools is manageable and describes a service which ran relatively fault-free for more than 1 year. Although attempts were made to correlate the level of service with both size of school and pupil/PC ratio, it is apparent that the use of the Internet in schools is generally far more a function of teacher motivation, experience and expectation and the service offer being made by Web-Sat and ATiT to the Dept. of Education and Science reflects this fact. This service offer targets not only Secondary schools which lie in small towns or rural parts of the country but also the large number of primary schools in similar situations.
Plans by the Dept. of Education and Science in Ireland to set up a broadband service for all Irish schools are advancing well and the initial blueprint for the national service is expected to be discussed in the coming months. Datanet, the company making recommendations to the Dept. of Education and Science for this service, expect to be issuing an RFP by the end of 2003. It is likely, based on current trends that the broadband service to be made available to schools will be managed centrally in Ireland allowing the Dept. of Education and Science to choose for regional and even national solutions based on "best fit" and value for money. This is in variance with the tendency previously observed in Ireland to facilitate "bottom-up" spending in schools, whereby each school was individually responsible for its own spending.
Most observers agree, that whatever the final mix chosen for the national service, it is highly likely that some form of satellite supported service will play a role particularly with regard to rural schools.