It can be hard to know when switching broadband providers whether you’re really making a change for the better.
Ultimately, the four most important areas to consider are speed, cost, reliability and extras. So how do you know if making the switch is worthwhile?
If you’re looking for a faster connection, your broadband options will include VDSL (Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line), FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) connections. Your provider can talk you through what each means in terms of performance and cost.
The final performance will depend on your local exchange, which means you can’t always compare like for like with other schools. When looking at options, ask for real-world examples. Quoted speeds are often based on a ‘best case scenario’. Busy times, when multiple demands are being made on the system, could throttle that speed. Ask what the quoted speed means in terms of upload and download speeds, for example, or how the solution will cope with your estimated demand.
As with domestic broadband, it pays to shop around. Discuss the broadband service you’re receiving with peers at other schools so that you can compare the respective performance and how much you’re paying. Such comparisons should help to ensure that you’re not being oversold on capabilities you don’t really need and that the price you’re being charged is fair.
The best speeds in the world will be no use if the connection keeps failing during classes. Even the most reliable service will encounter issues from time to time, so make sure you have a service level agreement that comes with dedicated support. In the event of issues, you won’t want to be hanging around on an automated phone line before even getting to know what the problem is.
Once you’ve settled on a provider, check to see what extra value they might be able to offer. Ask how secure the connection is, whether the service has been tailored for schools and whether you might be able to access any additional benefits, such as content screening tools. Also secure some guarantees around the migration process and confirm the estimated downtime, so that you can plan around it.
James Stoner is the founder of JSPC Computer Services, which provides ICT support to schools across Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire