Tech Intelligence Bulletin (HG Insights) – An enhanced £50 million commitment between LGfL (London Grid for Learning) and Virgin Media Business will more than double the capacity of LGfL’s Ignite National Education Network and transform connectivity at thousands of schools.

Additional bandwidth will allow teachers and pupils to take advantage of new technology including augmented and virtual reality, live-streaming and 1:1 pupil/device ratios.

21st century digital skills

More than 1.2 million school children are set to benefit from improved digital classrooms and faster connection speeds as a result of the deal, which will help children develop 21st century digital skills. Accompanying investments in network security will help ensure that LGfL’s network is one of the safest in the world for schools.

Schools on LGfL’s Ignite Network can now benefit from ultrafast connections of up to 1,000Mbps at no additional cost, placing them at the forefront of UK internet connectivity. The increased bandwidth at the core and edge of LGfL’s network will enable and empower schools to bring augmented and virtual reality, live-streaming and 1:1 student/device ratios into the classroom, as well as providing access to public sector networks Govroam and Eduroam for remote working – both of which require a high bandwidth connection to operate effectively.

Safe and secure digital platform

Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, said: “By providing thousands of schools with an ultrafast, safe and secure digital platform, we’re revolutionising the classroom and giving children the tools and skills they need to thrive in the digital age. We’re delighted to build on our long-standing partnership with LGfL and use the power of technology to help more than one million school children excel everyday.”

Under LGfL’s refreshed plans, all schools will be offered free upgrades to a minimum connection of 100Mbps (for both upload and download) with LGfL schools, on average, receiving a 200% plus boost in their bandwidth enabling hundreds of schools to increase their connection speed to 1,000Mbps. In addition, schools will be equipped with future-proof technology which can be quickly and remotely upgraded, helping save schools time and money should they wish to further boost their connection in future.

In addition to increased speeds, schools will also benefit from next generation firewalling, designed to keep them safe from hackers and other online threats. This complements LGfL’s existing range of enhanced security software including Malwarebytes, Sophos Intercept X, advanced email filtering and Meraki device management. Assistance and training is available to schools using these services.

Latest tech partnerships

As a charity whose mission is to ‘save schools money and keep children safe’, LGfL is committed to the advancement of education. Acting as lead negotiator for its members, the charitable trust uses its significant group purchasing power to secure groundbreaking pricing and terms on goods, services and support – effectively saving members ‘more money than they spend’ on their LGfL edtech subscription. Latest deals secured by LGfL’s purchasing initiative SmartBuy include partnerships with Adobe to provide Creative Cloud to LGfL schools, as well as Apple, Google, Sophos and Malwarebytes.

As LGfL’s long-standing connectivity partner, Virgin Media Business is committed to helping schools become digital-first institutions. Working with LGfL, Virgin Media Business provides schools with affordable access to ultrafast and resilient broadband through a virtual private network (VPN). Already effectively saving the education sector a collective £100million a year, this latest LGfL deal will see schools benefit from even greater bandwidth at no extra cost. 

Commenting on the partnership, John Jackson, CEO, LGfL said, “LGfL is determined to place UK education at the heart of digital innovation worldwide. Our strategic partnership with VMB in our Ignite Network will massively boost bandwidth for our core network along with connectivity for schools, enabling pupils and teachers to take advantage of the latest cutting-edge technology such as AR, VR and live-streaming to improve outcomes in the classroom. “Our plans to boost bandwidth will be complemented by investments in cybersecurity, reflecting our priority to not only provide one of the fastest networks for schools but one of the safest. By providing this huge boost to UK Education at no extra cost LGfL is achieving its mission to save schools money whilst ensuring they are fully equipped for the future.”

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