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British network beats rest of Europe ...
British network beats rest of Europe

London schools and other local government sites in the capital are to be linked up to one of Europe's largest broadband networks, in a collaborative venture involving all 33 London councils.

The London Grid for Learning will cover up to 2,500 schools and potentially a range of other council sites via direct connections and wide area networks.

The three-year contract for rolling out the 19.2 Gbps network is estimated to be worth£30m. Funding will come from the councils and the government's Standards Fund.

Stephen Hill, a management consultant from the Society for IT Management's consulting arm, who advised on the network's technical specifications, said it would probably be the biggest broadband network in Europe.

He said: 'The grid for learning will be able to deliver brilliant services for schools. We plan to open up to other sectors which will allow us to bring down the cost for schools.'

The network's core is due for completion by December and the first 500 schools are expected to be linked up by March.

2005 targets a long way off

Councils are significantly behind the private sector in transforming paper-based administration into online systems, a new survey warns.

Business process provider eiStream found staff in less than half the councils it surveyed were able to access customer documents from their PCs, compared to nearly three-quarters in the private sector.

Despite online access being key to e-government, only 14% of councils give the public access to their own documents over the internet, compared to 23% in the private sector.

And only 18% of standard administration in councils is done wholly electronically, compared with 30% in the private sector.

EiStream's director Pritesh Kotecha said: 'It is unlikely councils will be able, in any meaningful way, to meet the government's 2005 deadline for getting online.'

Some 200 large organisations in the public and private sector took part in the survey.

It found only a third of councils have the document imaging technology necessary to store paper-based correspondence in electronic format.

Even where councils have introduced imaging and workflow technology, they still make six times more copies of forms than the average user.

Mr Kotecha said the underlying problem was poorly integrated IT systems, so information on individual residents or cases is kept in more than one place, requiring copying.

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