How to compare internet service providers for your schoolPosted on 18 June 2021 by Beaming Support
School lessons today often involve the use of resources from all around world, available at the touch of a button via the internet.
With bandwidth-heavy video streams and interactive content becoming increasingly popular in the classroom, as well as cloud applications used by staff behind the scenes, school IT technicians will be acutely aware when it’s time to upgrade the school’s internet connection.
With closely monitored budgets and multiple stakeholders involved, you’ll likely need to present a variety of options before a decision can be taken about making any upgrade to your school’s internet connectivity. Here we’ll describe the different criteria you should use to compare internet service providers for schools as you narrow down your choices.
Compare internet service providers for your school
These questions will help you choose an internet service provider that can support the needs of your school now and in the future.
What will it cost?
Your school bursar or business manager will take a particular interest in this, but it’s in everyone’s interest to keep a close eye on the budget.
As long as you’re satisfied with the answers they give to the rest of the questions in this guide, an ISP acting in the school’s best interest can help you make a saving. Read our case study for Skinners Kent Academy to see how we helped them save enough to bring forward the furnishing of their library’s PC suite.
Be aware that services arranged via the local County Council aren’t necessarily the cheapest, in fact Beaming has been able to offer a significant saving against them, for example in the case of Folkestone St Mary’s Primary Academy, which was able to achieve a cost saving compared to the quote provided by their existing county council arranged provider, and saw an improvement in quality of service and support, too.
How fast will the connection be and can that increase?
As IT manager, you’re likely to have a good idea of the speed of connection you’ll need to make sure you don’t experience any network slow-downs.
Ask prospective providers how they’re able to maintain consistent speeds – those that don’t keep a careful eye on the number of subscribers to their network may struggle to do so.
Also important to consider is whether the speed can be increased over time. A gigabit capable fibre leased line can be used at a lower capacity (500Mbps, for example) and scaled up to increase speeds as your requirements change.
Of course, if you do need some guidance, a good provider will be happy to help you estimate the capacity needed based on your current and planned use.
How easy will it be to switch?
Internet downtime is extremely disruptive in a school. Will your ISP plan the switch to their services at a time that’s convenient (for example during half term), and will they commit to ensuring that the switchover date you’re given is indeed the date you go live?
For example, Beaming’s team project manages installations to make sure everyone and everything is in the right place at the right time. You won’t need to chase engineers or worry that you’ll be left without connectivity at an inconvenient time, because we’ll have it all in hand.
How will they help with cyber security & safeguarding?
Although the security of students and IT systems is ultimately the school’s responsibility, working with an ISP that does its utmost to help you protect students and your network gives you peace of mind. Look for a provider that carries ISO:27001 certification, which proves a commitment to good information security management.
When it comes to safeguarding in schools, content filtering is a major concern. Schools need to strike a balance between allowing learning to take place online and ensuring that students are not able to access anything that may be harmful to them.
Key to this is responsive support. We’ve found that many schools find this lacking from other ISPs or MSPs, with content filter and firewall changes sometimes taking days to be actioned. While it may seem tempting to hand responsibility over to the local county council, consider carefully whether the trade-off would be worth it if response times were inadequate in the case of a safeguarding or cyber security incident.
The schools that work with Beaming are impressed by the ease and speed with which we can implement the changes necessary to shield pupils from content they should not access. The IT team at Sabden Multi Academy Trust saw a huge improvement in response times for firewall changes when Beaming took over; you can read what they had to say about it here.
What support will you get?
A school IT team covers many aspects of technology, so it’s important to have support you can rely on when it comes to your connectivity. Are you confident that if you need help from your ISP, you’ll easily be able to hand over to them without needing to constantly chase or “babysit” them? If there is a problem, what kind of Service Level Agreement (SLA) does the provider commit to, and will you be able to speak straight away to someone that has the technical know-how to help? You need someone that speaks your language, allowing you to concentrate on the school’s IT.
With the answers to these questions covered, you should be able to compare internet service providers for your school and alleviate any concerns for all involved in the decision-making process.
How Beaming helps schools & academy trusts
Beaming works with schools ranging from small independent primaries through to large multi academy trusts. We can provide specialised support with:
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Schools we work with
- Not For Profit
Sandown School aims to form close relationships with families & the community. Until recently, the school’s telephone system was not providing the support the school needed.
- Leased Lines
The Sabden Multi Academy Trust
Bringing much-needed synergy to some very special schools
- Data Security
Folkestone St Mary's C of E Primary Academy
A fast and reliable internet connection is a necessity in the modern classroom, but this must be balanced with the very important matter of safeguarding students.
- Leased Lines
- Cost Saving
- Tricky Location
Skinners Kent Academy
Needing a private connection between their two new schools, The Skinners’ Kent Academy shopped around for the most effective and affordable solution. We won on both counts.
- Leased Lines
- Digital Transformation
St Mary's School
The students at St Mary’s are already facing their own communication struggles. Our solution has genuinely improved the lives of the young people, their parents and staff alike.
Aiming for a paperless system, Artemis’s director, Emma Buggy, needed the right infrastructure to support this new technology.