Suffolk County Council 11 Million Win Win Initiative

Public sector bodies responsible for state education are currently faced with two major imperatives trimming costs while at the same time ensuring that the pupils in their charge are properly equipped to make their way in the digital age and beyond.

Suffolk County Council has therefore sanctioned a bold £11 million programme to link up schools, libraries and county council buildings across the whole county with a single high speed network managed by Customer Service Direct ( CSD ), a joint venture partnership between the council, Mid Suffolk District Council and BT.

So far, the company commissioned by CSD to build the network, MLL Telecom of Marlow who have extensive experience of working on public sector networks, has already connected an initial 700 or so different sites utilising a range of the very latest access technologies based on a fibre and copper solution. This has enabled 219 schools and nearly 50,000 children to be linked to the Next Generation Network programme.

Around another 100 schools have signed up to join the programme and these include new academies and free schools. As with similar shared networks installed by MLL, there will be maximum security and privacy for traffic between users with one big bonus being that the Suffolk system has been designed to be shared by any public sector organisation in the county.

This fits neatly in with the broader national strategy of encouraging the public sector to slash costs by sharing facilities, particularly secure, high speed networks.

Meanwhile, the Suffolk County councillor responsible for Children, Schools and Young People's Services, Graham Newman, is in no doubt as to the value of the network in the context of its main purpose. "When our children leave school they will be entering a business world where high speed networks are a basic requirement, not a luxury. So it's important they are learning in an environment that replicates that and gives them every opportunity to be successful in later life" he maintains.

By: Brendan Wilde