Students and staff see connection speeds soar

01 May 2018

Kimbolton School near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire is an HMC co-educational day and boarding school with 980 pupils aged 4-18. It is centred on Kimbolton Castle which is set in 120 acres and was bought by the school in 1951.

The school wanted to improve its internet connectivity. Lessons need to be available for download, there is heavy usage of mobile devices, as well as high demand for mixed media streaming. Kimbolton also needed to ensure that boarders have round-the-clock access to online facilities.

Peterborough firm Evolving Networks was set a budget for the initial project and for each successive upgrade. 

The company first worked for the school in 2010 when it installed a 4x bonded ADSL connection which delivered around 24Mbps download speed. The school then upgraded to ADSL 2+ when the technology became available in May 2012, and increased download bandwidth to 70Mbps. A third upgrade in January 2014 saw the deployment of an 8x bonded ADSL connection which boosted download speeds to around 125Mbps to support increasing iPad usage by both students and staff.

According to Evolving Networks, this was one of the first ever multi-line connections based only on ADSL technology to breach the 100Mbps threshold, requiring upgrades to the specification of Kimbolton’s firewalls to match.

As part of the upgrade to eight ADSL lines, and to increase the resilience in case of hardware failure, the firm implemented VNF on Kimbolton’s virtual server infrastructure. This is clustered over two distinct buildings on the campus for high availability – if the first virtual appliance were to fail, the second would take over.

Yet another upgrade saw the school moving to an 8x bonded FTTC connection which delivers more than 400Mbps downloads and around 100Mbps uploads. Evolving Networks said that because of the large site, it could add resilience by using two separate BT cabinets in different locations.

Further upgrades are now being considered, particularly when FTTP is available. Evolving Networks says that its experience shows that schools eventually “max out” whatever bandwidth they are given, and it was the company’s policy to take advantage of newly available technology. It also pointed out that a traditional Ethernet leased line was never an option for Kimbolton School because of the cost.