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London Grid for Learning completes network upgrade



Chief executive says big bandwidth increase lays ground for increased capacity in schools for online resources

Schools technology charity the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) has completed a major upgrade of its broadband network, promising a big increase in bandwidth and increased capacity for using online educational resources.

Chief executive John Jackson (pictured) told UKAuthority the project has been carried out by Virgin Media Business under its existing partnership deal with LGfL and supported by ICT managed services company Atomwide.

It has taken about eight months and expanded the organisation’s network capacity by more than 100Gbps to close to 200Gbps. This promises a major boost to the bandwidth for schools hooked up to the network.

“We’ve been upgrading all the schools across London in one way or another, amounting to more than 2,000 sites,” said Jackson. “We’ve been giving them more bandwidth so more capacity, refreshing the kit with routers and firewalls, making it more secure and giving them more features.

“It opens up possibilities with cloud storage, educational content and online safety tools, and is part of our concept of a London SuperCloud. We have a secure, high capacity digital infrastructure that’s scalable to meet future needs.”

He had previously spoken of the SuperCloud as an infrastructure for cloud, shared services and the delivery of digital services.

Higher limits

While the bandwidth for individual schools will depend on the deals their local authorities or academy trusts have struck with LGfL, Jackson said the major advantage of the upgrade would be that they would get access to lower cost bandwidth and be much less likely to hit a limit on their capacity in using online resources. In turn, this should have a positive effect in classrooms.

“It allows children to access media rich content that excites them in the classroom,” Jackson said. “If we want kids to be excited about education we have to give them access to software and resources and minimum latency.

“And if teachers want to get innovative practices like working together in multi-academy trusts they will need the digital infrastructure to do so.”

He also emphasised that the connectivity extends to schools outside of London, notably those in multi-academy trusts that have deals with LGfL, and said the organisation is signing up a number of schools from other parts of the country.

Single point of access

The upgrade could also facilitate possible initiatives such as providing local authorities and schools with a single point of access to cloud services for management and educational functions. Jackson said there has already been interest in this from local authorities.

“We can layer that connectivity on top of existing infrastructure and deliver on a fibre on demand basis,” he said.

He also emphasised the savings that come from purchasing at scale. Under its status as a charitable foundation owned by London’s local authorities, NGfL has to pass these on to its customers or invest in further improvements.

“We’re now serving more than 3,000 sites across the UK and 96% of the state schools in London, and providing networking for all of London’s local authorities via the LondonPSN,” Jackson said.

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