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Hampshire IT

HPSN2 frequently asked questions

What is HPSN2?

HPSN2 is much more than just an internet connection – it’s a highly resilient leading public sector network (WAN) that connects over 1200 sites across Hampshire including schools, local authorities, health trusts and blue light services. This means that you can safely and securely transfer sensitive data without the risk of it being compromised.

It also provides secure access to several HCC services not available across the public internet including HSS, HEAT Service Desk, HCC Managed Virus Protection, Eddie Server, HCC Intranet, etc. CHSIMS is accessible across the internet but not without additional chargeable 2 factor authentication Safenet tokens, which may be impracticable for multi user access in school.

How does HPSN2 ensure online safety?

Online safety is of paramount importance especially in the light of the recent DfE published guidance on ‘Keeping children safe in education’. It’s also a key Ofsted review area. Our HPSN2 managed firewalls, SafeSearch protection and anti-virus software ensures that your students stay safe on line and that your school is protected from growing cyber threats. With HPSN2 we manage your online safety, if you move to another provider you become solely responsible.

How does flexible web filtering operate?

Schools also have the option to locally manage their own web content filtering by using our Flexible Web Filtering service. Two options are available - whole school or granulated filtering linked to the school Active Directory (the latter allows filtering between staff/students, year groups, etc).

Can I securely transer data using HPSN2?

Sensitive information such as student attendance and attainment data can be safely and securely transferred within the HPSN2 private network (e.g. to the Local Authority, other schools, etc) without the risk of it being compromised.  Similarly some schools have paired up to agree reciprocal off site data backup arrangements

What experience does Hampshire Services have in enterprise level networks?

Delivered in partnership with Virgin Media Business, HPSN was the first public sector network in the UK and currently serves 200,000 users across 1,200 sites. We have decades of experience of managing enterprise level networks and Virgin Media Business are the UK’s second largest network provider (after BT).

What access does HPSN2 give to curriculum content?

Schools are given free access to a range of online JANET and NEN curriculum content such as Bird Box, Audio Network, etc not available from commercial suppliers.

Does HPSN2 use fibre optic connections?

Yes, HPSN2 is delivered across fibre optic connections (FTTP). These are significantly superior to domestic and small business connections, commonly referred to as ‘fibre’ but which rarely enter the building on fibre optic cable.

Would our school share its connections with other sites?

No. All HPSN2 connections are delivered straight to the school and are not shared with other properties in the same area. Same site schools share a single connection, configured to ensure that each school receives the same bandwidth relevant to their school phase – we don’t compromise on bandwidth or speed.  The only contention (sharing) is at the Core Network and to the Internet although this is minimal. Commercial suppliers are likely to use significantly higher contention to reduce costs.   

What does HPSN2 do to keep my school and students safe online?

HPSN2 is delivered as a managed service and includes a range of essential services to keep your students safe online and to protect your school from growing cyber threats. The diagram below shows the typical volume of Hampshire schools internet traffic managed by HPSN2 in just one single hour.

HPSN2 traffic

What kind of firewalls are used?

Internet traffic is centrally managed by a highly secure enterprise level (EAL4+) firewall cluster. Infinitely more superior than any local school firewall you can rest assured that we are keeping your school safe from growing cyber threats.

Is there a difference between upload and download speeds?

All HPSN2 connections provide the same download and upload speeds. Some ISPs may only use asymmetrical connections (with slower upload speeds) to provide a lower cost service.  

Have you got capacity for growing internet traffic?

We can accommodate up to 10Gbit internet traffic at the core. This is 500% of the current traffic flow from Hampshire schools so there is plenty of room for growth. Chargeable options are also available for schools wanting to increase their local bandwidth.

How is HPSN2 made affordable for smaller and rural schools?

HPSN2 charges are smoothed across the wider school community to ensure that rural and small schools also benefit from high quality fibre optic connections, which would otherwise be unaffordable. This approach is not available from commercial ISPs and is fully endorsed by the Hampshire Schools Forum.     

How reliable is HPSN2

No ISP can guarantee 100% uptime and HPSN2 is not immune from occasional unplanned internet outage (normally like buses!). However, the service has improved dramatically following the core internet upgrade in 2014 and the few outages since this time have mostly resulted from problems further upstream. Obviously any outage is unwelcome and we aim to restore connectivity as quickly as we can, supported by the dedicated HPSN2 Service Desk, which is also included in the managed service. Our scale also means that we have direct access to Virgin Media Business 3rd level support.  

HPSN2 performance.

How does HPSN2 compare in price with other suppliers?

The costs of fibre optic broadband vary considerably depending on location. Our unique charge smoothing model ensures that high quality HPSN2 provision is available to rural Hampshire schools, which would otherwise be unaffordable.

It’s also essential that you compare like with like. HPSN2 is a full managed service including essential security already outlined in this article. Other ISPs are only likely to provide an internet connection so you need to factor the costs (hardware, software and ongoing management) of providing the additional essential services. While many schools are perfectly capable of managing these services locally, senior leaders need to decide if they want to take on this responsibility and be confident they can retain the relevant technical expertise longer term.  

What about urban competition?

Broadband competition has increased in urban areas in recent years. However, you still need to factor the additional essential security services and consider the implication of losing access to some key HCC & NEN services available with HPSN2. I would also urge any school reviewing alternative provision to consider the wider implications for other Hampshire schools. If we lose HPSN2 it will be gone forever and no public body, especially in the current climate, is likely to reinvest the considerable sums it cost to setup.  

What about my future requirements?

Our existing HPSN2 contract expires in 2019. Therefore, we will conduct a thorough procurement for its replacement (HPSN3) and schools will be consulted on their requirements including future bandwidth growth.

What does the Government say?

The DfE is supportive and recommends that schools should carefully consider any broadband services and connectivity offered by their Local Authority or their Regional Broadband Consortia (RBC).  They are highly tailored to address the needs of schools and are delivered using the private NEN backbone infrastructure service provided by the academic network, Janet UK. Their recent guidance on Keeping Children Safe in Education reinforces this message especially the requirement for having robust and up to date filtering solutions in place. HPSN2 meets this essential requirement.   

In summary HPSN2 remains a strong public sector managed service network. Therefore, let’s continue to improve and protect this valuable service for all Hampshire schools and ensure that we get best value out of the considerable sums that have already been invested.  

Archive Q&A

What bandwidth do secondary schools get?

Secondary schools will benefit from a new 100 Mbps connection.

What bandwidth do primary schools get?

With a few exceptions, all schools are automatically getting double their current bandwidth.

Is 8Mb enough for primary schools?

Currently we believe that the answer is yes, but as more web or cloud-based applications become available, schools may want to increase their bandwidth. HPSN2 is a twenty-first century network and schools can request a bandwidth increase at any time.

If we share our SWAN connection with another school, will both schools move to HPSN2 at the same time?

Yes, this is the agreed approach.

Will we be charged for the digging work?

There is no charge to schools for any installation work associated with the migration from SWAN to HPSN2.

Will the playground have to be dug up?

If your school is an on-net school Virgin Media Business will have to lay a new duct for the HPSN2 fibre. The Virgin Media Business planner will in all cases work with the school to agree a route. We will always try to avoid disruptive routes where possible, but it may be that for a small number of schools the route may have to go across an area of playground or car park etc. In those cases the work is scheduled to cause minimum disruption to the school.

If digging is required, what is the quality of reinstatement (make good) of any surface?

The quality of making good to hard paved areas will be in compliance with the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. Soft landscaped areas will be reinstated to the condition it was found before installation. Generally the installers will strip turf along the extent of the trench and keep it to one side for reinstatement, watering as necessary. Sports pitches are to be avoided for cable runs. Where the condition of the grass sward is poor, they will reinstate with turf or seed selected for the specific soil and site conditions. They will prepare the ground and ameliorate it as recommended by the turf/seed supplier, and allow for ground settlement following backfilling and watering to ensure the grass gets established. All trench and ducting work is supported by a 12 month warranty period.

How much negotiation is there on the route?

Virgin Media Business will adopt a consultative approach when considering construction routes for the delivery of ethernet connections into schools. Where possible we will consider the aesthetics of the surrounding areas and will take all reasonable endeavours to agree a duct route that minimises disruption to the day-to-day school activities and keeps scarring and spoil to a minimum.

Will all contractors be CRB checked?

Yes, all contractors will be CRB checked. Spot checks will be carried out.

If we are currently a shared site, will we get our own line?

The arrangements for shared lines stay the same. But as before, if you do share a line your bandwidth is 'protected'. That means if you are paying for 8Mbps you get 8Mbps. The school sharing the line cannot access any of that bandwidth - it’s exclusively yours.

If we are currently a shared site, what happens if the other site doesn’t go for HPSN2?

That may cause us to have to do a little bit of extra work, but that will be part of the project and the school on HPSN2 will be unaffected and will see no change to the service or get any extra costs.

If we are a federated school how will we be charged?

Non-federated schools pay a lump sum plus a cost per pupil.

But for federated schools the lump sum is divided up between the schools in the federation.

Flexible Web Filtering


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