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Leaving LEA

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by School Boy Error, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    OK so it looks like this April we're hoping to go our own way in terms of broadband provision from our LEA since we don't have computers from them anyway we pay in the region of £11,000 for what I would class a "poor" service. However, I'm not particularly technical (we have a technican fortunately) but I would like to find services / companies / products that people who manage their own broadband use / recommend.
    I need:
    A broadband provider
    A monitoring and filtering solution (hardware based perhaps best?)
    A company to support us with regards to SIMS
    I think that's about it!! Nervous about this going forward but we may actually get a service that benefits the education of our children if we get this through.
  2. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    ...and an email providor for staff!
  3. Search / post this to edugeek.
  4. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    Finding all this and a SIMs support is difficult. We are looking at moving and will probably continue with SIMs from LA however we have gone out to tender and looking at about £18K (ish) for broadband, all filtering (enhanced), email (which could be done free from live@edu). Where in UK are you?
  5. From what we've managed to gather, avoid Virgin's Big Red One broadband package. BT will do a 100 Mb/s uncontended, synchronous broadband package for around £13000 provided you take out a 3 year contract (may be 5, will be able to clarify Wednesday). The difference between 10Mb/s and 100Mb/s made 100 the better value choice.
    For filtering you'll need Websense or Lightspeed which are expensive. If you want to go open source, Squid web proxy with DansGuardian filtering is free but you have to run Linux.
    OpenVPN works far better that our Cisco based VPN that's provided by county and is also free.
    Pretty much all of this is available in School Guardian which you can get from Smoothwall at http://www.smoothwall.com/ . This is available as a drop in hardware device or installable disk for use on generic server hardware.
    You can get SIMS support from Capita. Failing that, your county provider may give you support but you'll need to negotiate a price.
  6. Hiya,
    What you go for depends on what you intend to do with your connection. The high price quoted above comes from the synchronous, zero contention nature of the line, i/.e. same speed up and down and you don't share the feed with anyone else. If you have fibre put in, it will probably be able to handle 100Mb/s. Capping it to say, 10MB/s doesn't actually save the provider that much cash so a 10 or 50MB/s connection won't be proportionally cheaper.
    Assuming that you aren't hosting your own website or email and that you won't have loads of people downloading from you, a cheap connection will probably do. If you want people VPN'ing in, accessing a VLE, etc. you can soon find your clients grinding to a crawl at peak hours.
    Sadly, with SIMS. you're pretty much stuck with either county provision or Capita. I once asked for a disk and a manual for SIMS only to be told that there was no manual and county's SIMS team learned "on the job", which would mean that our entire county on an undocumented piece of software.
  7. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    Thanks we don't use a VLE at all and we maintain two small websites so uploading is very minimal (and at the moment done at home because our LEA don't allow us to upload to our own websites!)
  8. If you're only downloading, 20Mb/s ADSL or the Cable equivalent from Virgin may be sufficient. Don't know how much data you upload to county/DFE from SIMS but it'd be worth working it out.
    Another alternative is SDSL which is slower (around 2Mb/s) but that's up and down and 1:1 contention so you're not sharing the line with anyone else. You can get 2Mb/s SDSL from about £99 a month for a basic line to around £299 a month for resilient, hopefully failure proof, option.
    Best bet is phone around a few providers and get prices for a range of services and speeds. Make sure you don't get sold a connection with a monthly bandwidth cap and you may find it cheaper to get a straighforward connection and buy in Smoothguardian than buy in a managed connection with all the filtering/firewalling provided by the connection company. Also, be aware that a lot of the companies now touting for business providing broadband for schools are buying the infrastructure from the same provider, e.g. Virgin, BT, whoever. This means that they are probably all paying pretty much the same for the wholesale connections and I suspect they'll be making very little profit on the actual connection and most of it on providing the management of additional services so you can expect a hard sell if you just ask for the line on its own.
    If you go to BETT, look out for the Smoothwall stand and ask them for a demo. It does everything you need from a security/filtering package.
  9. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    I understand that and so far we have had a very competitive quote from WebAnywhere. This seems to be a full service, e.g. our subscription not only pays for our ISP but also for filtering and monitoring software, a free domain and email accounts for around half the price that we pay the LEA just for the broadband. Now add the fact that the LEA charge us per email account, £400 a year for filtering software, £50 when we want them to open the port to be able to upload to our OWN website etc etc
    It looks extremely attractive and that's not even thinking about the fact we will have control over our own filtering so when we want to use an on line version of Sim City in Geography with the children we are not told, "We cannot unblock that. It's a game and we don't unblock games." We can actually make judgements ourselves and get the most out of the money we pay.
    It's so far looking to save us just under £11,000 in the first three years....and we'll be getting a service that is fit for purpose. Something we have thought that the LEA is not for a long time.

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