The National Grid For Learning (NGFL) "managed services" promoted by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) will get a much-needed boost following Northern Ireland's decision to use them to equip its schools.
The move follows the collapse of talks late last year for a pound;300 million private finance initiative project involving RM and ICL.
Jimmy Steward, director of services for the Classroom 2000 project, said a back-up plan had been developed in case the negotiations failed and was nowbeing implemented.
He said schools should receive computers and broadband Internet connections as quickly as they would have under "plan A", if not sooner in some cases.
Eight managed services suppliers are approved for Northern Ireland and several others have now applied for recognition.
Learning and technology Michael Wills acknowledged in his BETT speech that Becta-approved managed services had not proved suitable for schools not wanting a "complete package" of ICT services.