The New Zealand government-funded, student-focused managed network run by Crown Company Network for Learning (N4L) that provides internet services for more than 800,000 students and teachers in 2400 schools across New Zealand will receive its first major refresh since its launch in 2013.
N4L builds and manages schools’ Internet services, reducing IT complexity for schools and freeing up resources for teaching and learning.
N4L said the upgrade will start in August and is designed to meet the schools’ changing Internet capacity and security needs. It is expected to be completed by October 2019 and is part of a wider new four-year company strategy.
“Schools will benefit from more robust protection against online threats, such as phishing and ransomware; an easier way to get more bandwidth, and improved internet filtering tools which can be modified to accommodate the needs of individual classes and students,” N4L said.
N4L said the upgrade will also better equip schools to manage attempts to bypass their internet filtering with VPNs, and provide smart reporting tools to better understand and manage student internet use.
In August, N4L will appoint an initial panel of IT support companies “with extensive experience supporting schools to help ensure the rollout is delivered in a timely and seamless manner with the right levels of support provided along the way.”
Schools will be transitioned to a combined firewall and internet filtering solution provided by cyber security company Fortinet, centrally managed by N4L and part of the wider managed network services offering.
A pilot of the upgrade was undertaken earlier this year to a number of schools including Mt Albert Grammar School (MAGS) in Auckland.
The school’s director of e-learning Elise Goddard said the upgrade had delivered a substantial improvement in internet performance and the ability to intercept unwanted internet traffic, and block student VPN use.
She added: “Students using VPNs to circumvent internet filtering represents a growing area of concern - not only do they consume much of our school's bandwidth but they also impact student welfare."