Cheap broadband for schools?

George Cole

A new government project aims to bring broadband internet connections to more schools, as well as increased bandwidth and a reduction in costs. The Broadband Aggregation Project is a joint venture involving the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the Department of Trade and Industry and the NHS. The project will pool demand for broadband across the public sector.

By aggregating demand, the Government believes the public sector will get better value for money and that more areas should get broadband. Nine Regional Aggregation Boards (RABs) will be responsible for procuring broadband connections from 17 approved suppliers. The e-commerce minister Stephen Timms claims the project will save pound;200 million.

But others are more cautious. Geoff Chandler, education cultural services ICT project manager for Lincolnshire, says: "There are outstanding issues.

First RABs are not yet fully up and running in terms of providing the ability to actually make purchases. The second is whether schools will actually achieve 20 per cent savings. The third is that the RABs are simply purchasing the broadband line. Many RBCs and LEAs are currently working within a "managed services" framework, which provides end-to-end performance guarantees"

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George Cole

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