Suppliers are given the thumbs up

Schools are generally satisfied with their computer suppliers, a new survey has revealed.

The research, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills and carried out by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), sought the views of over 1,000 ICT co-ordinators on desktop and portable computers, equipment suppliers, technical support services and Internet access.

Owen Lynch, Becta's chief executive, said it was positive to see how well most suppliers were supporting schools.

Each firm was given a rating between one and five, with five meaning "very satisfied" and one meaning "very dissatisfied".

For desktops, Hewlett-Packard topped the overall satisfaction rating with 4.1, followed closely by Dell and Apple (both 4), Compaq and Fujitsu Siemens (3.9) and Tiny, Dan and Elonex all on 3.8, which was the average score. RM (3.7), Time (3.5) and Viglen (3.4) were just below the average but still performed well.

Dan and Dell (both 4) were the brands most likely to be recommended to another school by ICT co-ordinators, with Time (3.0) the least likely.

In the portable computers section, Compaq (4.4) topped the overall satisfaction by a distinct margin, though Toshiba (4.1) and Dell (4.0) also eclipsed the average of 3.9. Hewlett-Packard (3.8) and Fujitsu Siemens, Acer and RM (all 3.7) were just beneath it.

Likewise, ICT co-ordinators were most likely to recommend Compaq laptops to colleagues (4), with Acer bringing up the rear on 3.5. The computer suppliers section indicates that most schools do not use one of the big companies to buy their equipment. More than 660 responses fell into the "other" category, although the average rating was just above the 3.7 average.

Of the four firms rated individually, Dell was a firm favourite for overall satisfaction at 4.2, followed by Tiny (3.9) and RM (3.6), with Tiny on 3.2.

Schools were happiest with their Internet services supplier for their filtering facilities, while technical support was the source of most dissatisfaction. Easynet topped the overall satisfaction chart at 3.7, with DIALnet and RM close behind on 3.6. The now discontinued Edex service came in last, with Eclipse Internet (3.0) also well below the 3.5 average.

Chris Johnston

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