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Domestic and corporate internet providers tend to fall short of the education sector's specific needs. Gaps in their service can end up being costly in other ways. Be sure to weigh up all the costs, not just the fees that are visible upfront.

Click on the areas below to see how richly economical your Schools Internet Services really are!

Alternatively, share the good news with your colleagues by downloading a copy of the comparison table (PDF)

With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
As a charity, SWGfL ensures the best value for money for schools (as we do not make any profit), and shares the same values and objectives as schools: we’re here to help improve education and learning in the south west Organisations that might place commercial success ahead of the needs of schools No
Economies of scale: As we work for 2,500 schools, we can apply considerably more commercial pressure on suppliers to get the most competitive pricing Lower discount levels (meaning higher prices) or restricted supplier/product ranges Yes (but probably at additional cost)
We work with a very wide range of telecoms companies to find the best products in each area. This means that the selection of telecoms from the wide range of suppliers is on the basis of quality and value, not the amount of profit that can be made Restricted range of suppliers and products Yes (but probably at additional cost)
SWGfL will continue to procure best value services for schools and negotiate with suppliers to get the right contracts and protections for schools, rather than the standards terms and conditions from suppliers Contracts that suit the supplier, not the customer, with terms and conditions (e.g. liabilities, IPR etc) that could be problematic No
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
Education-specific connectivity with SWGfL & RM IHG sourcing best suppliers & managing entire delivery Different suppliers supplying different services; plus extra services to manage within your school Yes (but probably at additional cost)
All telecoms integrated and passed on by RM IHG at 0% margin, ensuring best value Cost of service provider’s profit margins No (other suppliers make profit on telecoms)
A free of charge ADSL backup service for schools with managed CPE and over 400 learners Loss of connectivity if the main circuit fails for whatever reason, affecting learning and school operations Yes (but often at additional cost)
A private network, so performance, security & reliability can be better managed, avoid issues like contention and unrealistic “up to” speeds Less confidence in the network’s ability to meet your school’s needs No (other networks are unlikely to be private)
Wherever possible dedicated, symmetric circuits, so you get the (faster) upload & download speeds and better-managed network traffic (contention ratios) Slower upload & download speeds, particularly at peak times Yes (but probably at additional cost)
Dedicated high-speed connections to 350 peers (eg Google, JANET & BBC), plus fast access to National Education Network (NEN) for a wide range of learning content and applications Slower access & multiple subscription costs No (other suppliers can’t provide NEN connections; some provide peering with additional costs)
Ongoing development of your network solution & service according to your needs Some new technology not made available to you Yes (but probably at additional cost)
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
Safety from illegal content for users as all traffic is passed through proxy servers & checked against Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) database Less protection from illegal content Yes (but probably at additional cost)
A unique approach which guarantees automatic notification to police of any attempts to access illegal material The possibility of un-investigated infringements & perpetrators not held to account No (only SWGfL can provide this)
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
Cisco IronPort (market-leading protection against spam, spyware & phishing) Risk of spam or virus attack, time/resource needed to remove spam each week & to handle complaints from staff/students/parents Yes (but probably at additional cost)
Protection for your school via multiple active Cisco enterprise-class firewalls with intrusion detection & prevention Need to purchase and deploy your own security solutions or risk a network open to external abuse
Service accredited to ISO27001, the industry standard for information security, giving you assurance that your data is being handled by trained professionals in line with a set of stringent standards Potential concerns around information security, or worse still incidents that lead to losses or harm Yes (but often at additional cost)
Help managing the risk at school level through a holistic service Increased risk through different suppliers or school staff having to manage some elements of their services No (only SWGfL can provide this)
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
ITIL-based FITS-aware processes to ensure quality in management of service & change A service provider that may not have underlying systems for effective evolution/improvement of your service Questionable
Continual service improvement through strong partnerships Less likelihood of roadmaps & service improvements if no/few partnerships
No charge for technical change requests (e.g. firewall ports, DNS changes, IP changes) Unpredictable bills to make necessary changes, or projects held up due to lack of funding No (most suppliers charge for changes)
SWGfL and RM IHG (through aggregated approach) negotiate better contracts with telecoms companies and other suppliers to give schools more protection Schools alone or in small numbers would have limited ability to influence telecoms company standard contracts/T&Cs, often leading to unfavourable terms for the school No (SWGfL can achieve this by acting on behalf of 2,500 schools)
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
SWGfL’s industry awareness & specialism, inc. teaching/learning, e-safety& large-scale networks for education & public sector Slow or no response to changes in education sector (e.g. DfE requirements) A service provider with less/no understanding of education & public sector Questionable
RM’s business & quality standards, accreditations & awards, inc. Becta Accreditation, ISO Standards, Service Standard awards A service provider that is not a leader in the education sector No (other suppliers unlikely to be education specialists)
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
One low-cost local support phone number for SWGfL support Need to contact different suppliers & call centres for different services, with no shared responsibility & variable call/service costs; call centres (with calls logged, but issues unfixed) Yes (but probably at additional cost)
Support from highly qualified engineers (Cisco CCIE, Microsoft MCSE, Red Hat RHCE & CISSP) Critical work undertaken without guarantee of highly qualified engineers Questionable
24x7 proactive network monitoring with automated alerts for fast detection & correction of faults The possibility of service fault/failure before your ISP is aware (undetected issues can lead to longer periods of downtime) Questionable
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
Secure integrated user-friendly dashboard where you gain info & make decisions based on service data The trouble of going to multiple sites & contacts to get the info you need No (this is bespoke to SWGfL)
Quick easy online mechanism to log & track support calls & change requests at your convenience Less responsive/flexible support when you need to resolve issues or make changes
Fast easy anytime access to comprehensive online support via the Knowledge Library Time wasted browsing generalised support from different suppliers
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
Web-based reporting tools showing real-time bandwidth statistics, plus usage & intelligence info for other SWGfL services Risks of missing trends, needs, problems & future issues (e.g. inappropriate website access) Yes (but probably at additional cost)
With SWGfL you gain… Without SWGfL you’d have… Can I get this elsewhere?
A full range of Optional Services including flexible content filtering and monitoring, email, web, content and virtual server hosting, video and collaboration, caching, remote data backup, secure data transfer and more Multiple providers with varying support processes? More equipment required at school level? Higher prices? No (this is unique to SWGfL)
Our nationally recognised e-safety team provides services every day to schools, LSCBs, LAs and others. SWGfL has also recently taken over responsibility for UK-wide safer internet strategy through the UK Safer Internet Centre, in partnership with Childnet and IWF Probably a technology-only approach to e-safety, missing the wider issues of awareness, behaviour and culture No (this is unique to SWGfL)
We currently provide the SWGfL Merlin service as a teaching and learning vehicle. Schools can scale their consumption of Merlin to suit, and more and more services will be integrated with Merlin, adding things like email to the current pile of MIS, VLE and content services that are already integrated Costs to provide other technology? Reduced integration? Challenges around parental engagement? No (this is unique to SWGfL)
We are currently considering rolling out further services for schools in the south west via the Schools Internet Services, including:
  • IP telephony and Unified Communications
  • Transparent (intercepting) proxy services
  • Dynamic content caching
You’ll be able to tap into these services and enjoy the benefits, whether they are deployed locally, at LA level, or at regional level
Fewer services made available for very wide numbers of users, potentially losing the benefit of working collaboratively Yes (but probably at additional cost)

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© 2005-2014 South West Grid for Learning Trust Ltd.



The South West Grid for Learning Trust is a charitable trust company registered in England. Company Number: 5589479. Charity Number: 1120354. VAT Registration Number GB 880 8618 88
Registered Office: SWGfL Office, Belvedere House, Woodwater Park, Pynes Hill, Exeter, EX2 5WS.
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