Two thousand schools across London are set to benefit from a new Wi-Fi service and Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, which will be delivered through the Public Services Network project developed by London Grid for Learning (LGfL) and Virgin Media Business.
LGfL launched the London Public Services Network (LondonPSN) in partnership with Virgin Media Business in 2011. The PSN promises to provide a secure, super-fast infrastructure and shared framework over which other public sector organisations can procure new technology services.
The PSN is capable of saving schools around £100 million each year, according to a report on the value for money of the London Grid for Learning conducted by Wandsworth Council in 2010.
The first priority was the roll out of a fibre optic network to the 2,000 schools, making 100 Mbps bandwidth available to over a million students in the capital. Now, LGfL is also offering Wi-Fi and VoIP over the same core network.
Schools can simply purchase the required number of wireless access points they need and share the technology that is centrally hosted in the core of the LGfL network. This means that they can run a managed wireless service at a fraction of the price of a stand-alone service.
"Technology is radically changing the way we live and work, and increasingly empowers the way that teachers teach and children learn," said Brian Durrant, chief executive of the London Grid for Learning Trust.
"London schools are already leading the way as a blueprint for technology in education for the UK and beyond; and the addition of Wi-Fi and VoIP to LGfL services for schools will further support that lead."
By installing VoIP schools will reduce their on-going telephony spend and will also benefit from free calls to other school sites on the system. These services will enable schools to take advantage of new e-learning tools like tablets, interactive whiteboards and educational podcasts.
"High-speed internet services are underpinning the delivery of some exciting classroom technology and the PSN is at the heart of how the public sector in London will procure the best technology at an affordable price," said Jeff Wollen, executive director of public sector at Virgin Media Business.
"Sharing services isn't just about reducing costs and improving services, but allowing different departments and organisations to use technology to work together, more effectively."