While there are many businesses struggling to source one reliable reasonable speed broadband connection, colleges are set to get funding assistance to add a second broadband connection to increase diversity and ensure 24/7 uptime.
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced capital spending to give colleges better access to JANET. The money for these improvements comes from a wider pot of £488m so it is not totally clear how much will be spent on resilient broadband.
Ensuring that the situation does not arise where a days teaching is lost to a lack of Internet access is clearly important to colleges and the increase in remote teaching means colleges have ever increasing needs for connectivity.
"Working with BIS and the AoC we understand the importance of ensuring colleges have the support and technical infrastructure in place to deliver for their learners, staff and communities. This will now be made possible, through our Janet organisation, due to the capital investment announced today by BIS.
We will be writing to FE colleges in December to understand their interest in taking up this opportunity for a second connection, which safeguards and provides a backup for their day-to-day network connections meaning their college can remain online 24 hours.
A resilient connection is essential in providing continuity of online learning and new forms of provision, online assessment and the requirements of learners, who now expect to use their own devices as part of their studies."Martyn Harrow, Jisc chief executive
Providing true resilient connections can be difficult and costly, for example if the only sensible route is across a bridge you can have a weak point in the resilient network without a lot of expense to go the long way around, or construct a different crossing method.
Remote learning is one of the key benefits from better broadband, so it will be interesting to see how the further education colleges embrace this along with the change from traditional IT departments to cloud based systems. The full impact of broadband on colleges and universities is set to hit them in the next five years really, as there will be a generation entering the system who have only known an always-on Internet experience. It is possible that remote learning may mean that towns focused around a large student population become a distant memory as more students study without moving home.