Virgin Media Business to power London school network

Education tech

Virgin Media Business has secured a five year deal with the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) to provide network capabilities to over 2,000 schools.

The corporate internet service provider (ISP) will provide the infrastructure for schools across all 33 boroughs in the capital, enabling them to take advantage of educational technology which is becoming more and more dominant in the classroom.

Primary schools will be provided with 10Mbps connections whilst secondary schools will get an "ultrafast" 100Mbps. Brian Durrant, chief executive (CEO) of the LGfL, claimed the 10Mbps connection would cost less than what current provider Synetrix charged for 5Mbps and the 100Mbps would cost just a third of the present price tag.

At a launch event in central London, Durrant said there was a "quiet revolution" occurring in education where technology was becoming an essential tool for modern day schools, despite 10 years ago teachers not even knowing what they would need broadband for.

"It allows a depth of understanding, a depth of interaction and a level of achievement not seen before with thousands of teachers and children finding a new way of teaching and a new way of learning," he said.

"We need the infrastructure to provide that."

The agreement with Virgin Media Business has also taken into account the tough economic climate facing public sector organisations, with the relatively new Government looking to reduce costs rather than spend.

Rather than an upfront cost, the ISP has included the money needed for set up and has spread it across the five years.

Mark Heraghty, managing director of Virgin Media Business, said: "We are taking the cost out but improving the service that is fundamentally Virgin."

This is only the first phase for the Public Sector Network (PSN). Both Virgin Media Business and the LGfL hope to offer the infrastructure to other public organisations, such as the Police and hospitals, in the near future.

The phase over to Virgin's network will begin in April and should be completed by June 2012. Heraghty confirmed discussions with other public sector groups will begin as soon as the phase over starts.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.