Education first to benefit, but others sure to follow
Virgin Media Business (VMB) has secured a contract with the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) to provide the first phase of a Public Sector Network (PSN) to schools across the capital.
VMB will provide network infrastructure services to nearly 3,000 schools across London. The five-year deal will provide a dedicated and secure network for the LGfL at a significantly lower cost than schools are currently playing, said Brian Durrant, CEO of LGfL.
Those currently paying for a 5Mbps from existing supplier Synetrix will be paying less than half the cost for a 10Mbps connection and those on a 100Mbps will pay less than a third.
In total, London schools are expected to save up to £100m a year.
At a launch event in London, Durrant added that the new network should enable schools to embrace new technology and improve teaching standards. "We have access to the largest store of information on the planet: the Internet," he said. "We want to take the best of it and keep out the worst of it. This is a new infrastructure, a separate secure network that is safe for children. We’re changing the way teachers teach and children learn as we move through the 21st Century. There is a quiet revolution [in the way education uses technology] happening."
Mark Ducker, head teacher at Gonville secondary school in Croydon, spoke about the positive impact he had seen at his school after it decided to embrace technology five years ago. "Teachers are now operating in a completely different way than they did ten years ago. Classes have got access to netbooks and wireless connectivity. That makes learning more personalised; we can determine what each child needs in order for them to make progress. We can give them a much more targeted approach."
Eventually the network will be expanded to other public sector bodies such as councils, police forces and health services, Durrant said.
Mark Heraghty, MD of Virgin Media Business, said that the ISP has a massive network in place but for great chunks of the day it lies empty, only getting busy when people get home from work during the evening. Having this existing infrastructure in place has enabled VMB to offer the discounted price, Heraghty said.
The first sites will be connected to Virgin’s network in April this year, with the rollout expected to be completed by June 2011.