Proximus, Belgium’s largest telecom operator, and Signpost, the country’s market leader for ICT solutions in education, are signing a strategic partnership agreement today.
In doing this, they are acting upon their ambition to jointly develop an end-to-end solution through all layers of the digital educational environment, from secure Internet access and Wi-Fi, through hardware and software, to digital content and a professional ICT helpdesk.
Fiber in almost all secondary schools by the end of 2023
As high-quality digital education depends on good connectivity and robust infrastructure, Proximus is aiming to equip as many schools as possible with fiber, the fixed network technology of the future.
Within the context of its investment plan, in which 4.2 million homes and businesses will be connected to the fiber network by 2028, the operator has therefore decided to prioritize schools in the fiber roll-out. A first concrete ambition is to be able to connect almost all secondary schools in Belgium to fiber by the end of 2023.
Proximus will cover the lion’s share of the connection costs and has allocated an additional budget of at least EUR 10 million for this. In addition, Proximus is putting its expertise in the field of Wi-Fi solutions and security at the schools’ disposal.
Academic Connect, an end-to-end solution that encompasses all facets of the ICT environment in schools
The Academic Connect project goes further than just offering connectivity, however. Thanks to the collaboration, Signpost, which has been the partner of educational institutions for many years in terms of hardware, software and digital methods, can further expand its offer and provide a comprehensive ICT solution that is tailored to schools.
With Connect for Schools, Signpost offers a network environment as-a-service, which relieves schools of all ICT concerns. Signpost ensures that Wi-Fi networks, routers and firewalls function correctly and are properly secured, and is ready to intervene in the event of technical problems.
In addition, Connect for Teachers allows schools to reward their teachers by providing a hefty discount on a range of telecom products that they use at home. Finally, the all-encompassing DigiPack solution provides a laptop to all teachers and students, with the right software, digital methods and the best connectivity.
A smart ecosystem as driver of digital inclusion
Reliable, high-performance networks and high-quality learning platforms are an important driver for the digital inclusion of school-age youngsters. To ensure that no one is left behind, it is crucial to connect schools, students and teachers, and to make digital education available to everyone. When distance learning emerged, the Internet connection of the teachers at home even became an indispensable tool.
By bridging the gap between fiber connectivity, hardware, software and digital content, Proximus and Signpost want to assume their responsibility to help realize the digital transformation of our education system. Both companies are also reaching out to the various authorities in charge of education, in order to make the closing of the digital divide an absolute priority.
For the purchase of hardware and software or for investments in connectivity, Flemish schools can already call on the resources that are made available by the Flemish Government in the context of the Digisprong. Nevertheless, the Academic Connect project covers all regions in Belgium, with the aim to ensure wide accessibility of connectivity, hardware and software platforms for schools.
“I am very pleased with the signing of this agreement, which will enable us to meet the digital needs of schools, teachers and students. Education is a key domain for the entire society, the society of tomorrow. What matters to Proximus is that we can support education in their digital transformation for the generations of tomorrow with reliable solutions and ensure that no one is excluded from the opportunities that digitization offers. Our fiber investment plan, the additional resources that we allocate to secondary schools and the solutions we offer together with Signpost will support schools to enter the digital era and adopt new ways of learning, both now and in the future,” said, Guillaume Boutin,
CEO of the Proximus Group.
“Schools are rapidly introducing laptops, software, learning platforms and digital methods into the classroom. We have been offering these solutions for quite some time. One crucial element was still missing, however. Connectivity and the right security are becoming increasingly important. After all, schools must first fine-tune their infrastructure and Internet before they can successfully introduce laptops and digital learning materials. That is why I’m very satisfied with this unique collaboration with Proximus. Via Academic Connect, just about any school can be connected to fiber for a limited investment, regardless of the environmental work required for this. This is a unique offer that relieves schools of a lot of concerns in the field of ICT,” explained, Arne Vandendriessche, CEO of Signpost.