Virgin Media Business has inked a deal with the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) to roll out the new Public Sector Network to schools across the capital.
Under the deal, Virgin Media Business will provide the infrastructure for over 2,000 schools across all 33 boroughs of London, enabling them to take advantage of economies of scale to procure voice, data technology and related ICT services at competitive prices.
From April 2011, primary schools paying for a 5Mbps connection from existing supplier Synetrix will have access to a 10Mbps one at half the price, and secondary schools will be paying one third less than they do currently for a 100Mbps line.
The deal is expected to save schools in London up to £100 million per year.
The move follows the government’s decision to scrap the £200 million country-wide grant to fund IT take-up in schools, of which £24 million would go to schools in London.
Speaking at a launch event in London, LGfL CEO Brian Durrant said: “There has never been a more important time than this to use London schools’ collective buying power to achieve the best value services.”
With the help of the new network, Durrant said, every school in London can boast a “dynamic and technically advanced” learning environment, giving their students the best chance of success.
In the future, the network could be rolled out to the wider public sector, allowing local councils, police and emergency services to procure services via LondonPSN and benefit from the substantial cost savings it offers.
According to head of ICT at Camden council John Jackson, the network could deliver over £300 in efficiencies across the whole of the public sector, money that would otherwise spent on bureaucracy.
“The potential growth of the LondonPSN is absolutely vast,” said Mark Heraghty, Managing Director, Virgin Media Business.
“It will not only give schools across the capital the means and tools to provide a richer, more interactive learning environment for their pupils but any and every public sector organisation will be able to make a more resourceful and cost-effective use of ICT through this platform for shared services.”
The first phase is set to begin in April this year, with all schools expected to be connected by June 2012.